fall slow down

Fall Migration Notes

Fall Migration is underway and while your birdfeeders will slow down as we approach October birdwatching will only get more interesting.  Have your binoculars with you and ready because warblers are pouring through middle Tennessee stopping to feed in the early mornings on insects and berries.  Mornings are the best time to see lots of different species of warblers.  And mornings after a storm tend to be even better.  Make time to visit one of the many great local birdwatching areas this fall to see some of them.  For information about great places to birdwatch click on the links below…

  • Tennessee Birding Trails is a great website for locating trails for specific types of birding.

  • Tennessee Birding Facebook group has an active community of birders who post often.

  • Tennessee Ornithological Society (TOS) Nashville Chapter is having their Radnor Lake Wed morning bird walks September 19th and continue each Wednesday through October 10th. Please meet in the west Parking lot outside the Visitor’s Center at 7:30am. Come rain or shine. With the exception of ongoing downpours or thunderstorms.

  • TN-BIRD email list is a free list that allows you to get updates of bird sighting from other birders in the area. to receive emails simply click on “find and join” at the top right of the tn-bird page, search for list name tn-bird, and follow the instructions on signing up your email.


One of the more interesting, easy, and fun things to see in the fall is the migration of Chimney Swifts and Common Nighthawks. In the evenings, particularly in areas where there is outdoor lighting, like high school football games and shopping malls, Common Nighthawks gather and feed on insects. Downtown areas tend to be very productive areas to see both.

The Common Nighthawk, a member of the Goatsuckers family, measures around 9 1/2 “in length. They are gray-brown with slim, long wings that have a distinctive white bar near the tips. They are most active at night but can be seen midday as well. They fly with long easy strokes but can quickly change direction and appear erratic as they catch flying insects. Male Nighthawks have a white throat and white band across a notched tail. Listen for the unusual “peent” call of the Nighthawk.

The Chimney Swift is a short swallowlike bird with long, slightly curved wings. Peterson’s field guide to Eastern Birds describes it as a “cigar with wings”. Always in motion, Swifts appear to continually fly never landing to rest and constantly “twitter”. They measure about 5 ½” in length and are uniformly grayish to brown. During migration Swifts have been known to roost together by the thousands in a single chimney. On more than a few occasions I have witnessed a “funnel” of swifts descending into the chimney of a downtown building while on my way to a Predators game. It is a fascinating sight.


And About Hummingbirds

We may see Ruby-throated hummingbirds well into October so keep your feeders out with fresh nectar as there may be several waves of hummingbirds still coming through TN on their return to Central and South America. The belief that feeders should be taken down to cause the birds to migrate is incorrect.  They will leave when they are ready whether there is a feeder present or not.  

Fall slow down at feeders

Many of you have already noticed a slow down at your feeders.  Sometimes it can be abrupt and dramatic.  You may even notice some species become practically non-existent.  Bird feeders in September and October are typically very quiet. This is surprising to some but actually normal and understandable.  With the conclusion of the breeding season birds are now in less need of a quick, easy food source... your feeders.  While raising their young during the months of March through July birds expend tremendous amounts of energy and will take great advantage of backyard feeders.  We sell more seed and suet during those months than we do in winter. 

Now young birds are independent and the lives of adult birds are at a much more leisurely pace.  On top of that nature is producing an abundance of food at this time.  Not only are insects still plentiful but every tree, shrub, weed, and wildflower has produced seeds, nuts, and fruit.  There is literally food for birds everywhere.  It is a great example of the fact that birds do not rely on our feeders but simply take advantage of them in times of more demand for food.  So, don’t worry that you are not seeing many birds around the feeders right now.  It is totally normal. About the time we get the first frost or two, you will begin to see a return of your favorite birds to feeders.  I don’t know about you but a good frost sounds good right about now. 

And you will begin to see our winter visitors, like Junco’s, White-throated sparrows, Yellow-bellied sapsuckers, Kinglets, and hopefully, Purple Finch, Pine Siskin, and Red-breasted Nuthatch.

Keep this in mind while you are buying your seed next time.  It’s advisable to buy smaller quantities until birds begin visiting with more frequency in November.  Remember, the more seed you end up storing in a container over the next two months the more chance there is of having a bug hatch.   

And while birds take a break from your feeders take time to give your feeders a thorough cleaning.  Warm soapy water, a brush, and a little effort are well worth the effort to provide a clean, healthy feeding environment for the birds. 

Disassemble your feeder if possible and soak it warm soapy water. Use brushes to clean caked on debris.

Disassemble your feeder if possible and soak it warm soapy water. Use brushes to clean caked on debris.

Store update: Item are still available on our 50% off table. Also all remaining mailbox covers, flags, and door mats are 50% off to make room for new fall and winter designs.

The Fall Slowdown


Have you noticed a lack of bird activity at your feeders in the last few weeks? It’s not anything you’ve done wrong and there is nothing wrong with the seed, it’s the seasonal transition that makes birds scarce at feeders. 
This time of year many of you will notice an abrupt and sometimes dramatic slowdown at your feeders.  You may even notice some species become practically non-existent.  Bird feeders in September and October are typically very quiet. This is normal and understandable.  With thebreeding season well behind them birds are now in less need of a quick, easy food source like your feeders.  While raising their young during the months March through July birds expend great energy and will take full advantage of backyard feeders.  We sell far more seed and suet during those months than we do even in winter.
Let’s not forget that the food birds get at your feeders is really only a supplement to their natural diet.  They do not become dependent on feeders.  Their frequency of visits to feeders is based largely on what is going on at that time in their life-cycle, seasonally and environmentally.  Your feeders are slow at this time of year because the breeding season is over and adults are not raising and feeding young, and practically all plants; weeds, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees, are producing seeds, nuts, and fruit.  Birds are taking advantage of the bounty nature is providing them.  Nature provides all this food in the fall to help wildlife get through the winter.  They are busily feeding and storing food for the months to come.  Will this be a tough winter? The birds likely know.
So don’t worry that you are not seeing many birds around the feeders right now.  It is totally normal. About the time we get the first frost or two you will begin to see a return of your favorite birds to feeders.  And be on the lookout for our winter birds like Purple finch, Pine siskin, Red-breasted nuthatch, and White-throated sparrow.
Although there are fewer everyday hummingbirds are still being seen.  Keep at least one feeder going and keep the nectar fresh.