As surprising as it may seem, late August and September can be a rewarding time to watch birds in your yard. However, because it can be challenging the vast majority of the migrants that visit our yards on their fall migration are unnoticed.
There are many reasons why this is true. To begin with, most days it is sometimes difficult leave our cool houses and venture outside to look for them when more often than not the temperature hovers above 90 degrees and the humidity is so high the heat index soars well above 100. It is also a hard to become motivated to go birding when throughout most of the day bird activity is well below what it was earlier in the year.
In addition, most of the warblers that visit our yards at this time of the year look nothing like the brilliantly colored warblers that pass through in the spring. They have replaced their resplendent plumage with a cloak of drab feathers has prompted birders to refer to them as confusing fall warblers.
To top it all off, those that make a rest stop in our yards rarely visit traditional bird feeders. In fact, they are more apt to use a birdbath than a feeder.
In spite of all of these obstacles, the folks that do venture outside to look for these long distance migrants are often rewarded with catching glimpses of an amazing array of warblers, vireos, and other songbirds. If you want to join this group of hardy bird enthusiasts, you need to known when and where to look for them.
The best time to search for these special birds is during the first couple of hours after the sun rises above the horizon. The reason for this is they migrate at night and then rest and feed during the daylight hours. Once they drop down in your yard, they begin foraging for food among the foliage that cloaks your shrubs and trees. In essence, they are using our yards as rest stops in the same manner we pull off the highway and pull in to a gas station to refuel our cars and grab a bite to eat whenever we make a long distance trip.
How long these feathered travelers stay is dependent on a number of factors such as the weather and the availability of food. If food is abundant and the weather is suitable for flying, they may stay but a day or so.
For the next several weeks, warblers and other songbirds will be passing through seemingly in waves. As such, a yard might be full of migrants one day and devoid of them for the next several days. Keep this in mind and do not become discouraged if you don’t see any migrants on your first effort. During the next several weeks, untold numbers of these birds will be passing through backyards across the entire length of the state.