Ahhh ... the magical month of September is here — and moving along way too fast.

The dog days of summer are pretty much behind us by now as we welcome the breezy, crisp days of the fall season. The colors of the landscape are beginning to change. The panorama of green is gradually being replaced with warm hues of yellows, golds, reds, and brown—the rich shades of autumn. In just a week, summertime will be done for another year.


The birds are preparing themselves with their seasonal costume change. Many are moving around and heading southward to warmer climates. Migration is in full swing along the major U.S. flyways. And the bugs and insects of summer's end have been making a lot of noise lately. Cicadas, katydids, and crickets have been making quite a racket. Have you heard them? Around our house, it's cicadas singing during the daytime, katydids singing at night, and crickets singing in the basement.

Fall is the start of bird feeding season, and it's time now to clean out feeders and fill them up. Black oil sunflower seed is the best all-purpose seed because of its popularity among a large variety of bird species. It can be served in tube feeders, platform feeders, mesh, and hopper feeders.

It has a high content of fat, fiber, protein, and vitamins — all of which make it a healthy choice for our feathered friends.

Nyjer seed, also called niger seed and thistle seed, is a good, but pricey choice for a number of finches and small birds. It has high oil content and is an excellent source of energy that birds require during cold weather. It is best offered in a specialized feeder that suits the small size of the seeds and cuts down on waste. Birds with short, pointed bills can easily manage the petite black Nyjer seeds.

As the days become cooler, suet is another source of energy for keeping the birds active and warm during the winter months. It can be purchased in small blocks, suet cakes, and is easily offered in feeders made of metal or wire mesh. The birds seem to be perfectly satisfied with plain suet, but manufacturers often supplement it with nuts, fruits, seeds, and berries. I'm not sure if they do it more for the birds or for the people who buy the suet.

Suet is definitely a cool weather treat for the birds. If it is offered when the temperatures are too warm outside, the suet melts and sticks to bird feathers inhibiting their ability to fly or move about freely.

Hummingbirds! Have you been putting out sugar water for the hummingbirds? Are they still visiting your backyard?

They are on the move now — traveling south on their long journey to Central America where they will spend the winter. Do you know they travel non-stop for 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico?

It's a good idea to keep feeding the hummingbirds for a few more weeks. If they stop at your feeder, you won't keep them from migrating. On the contrary, the sugar water you offer is likely to help them by providing the food and energy they need to keep going. The usual recipe for hummingbird nectar is four parts of water to one part sugar. During migration, it is fine to add a little more sugar to the mix. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology suggests mixing one part sugar with three parts water to boost their energy.

Sometimes stragglers who have summered in more northern regions get a late start on their journey. They are often young hummers from late nests, and are the ones we are likely to see at our feeders as summer ends and fall begins.

Whether you are watching the birds or listening to the chorus of the cicadas and katydids, or just soaking in the crisp autumn air, enjoy the blessings of the season. Ole Man Winter will be here before we know it.