The Backyard Naturalist's Autumn 2021 Checklist for Backyard Birding.

Backyard Birders Autumn Checklist 2021

Our Birders’ Autumn Checklist 2021 is not just about winding up after a busy nesting season, it’s also about setting up for the next one! If you want to support the health, if not the very survival, of Spring 2022 nestlings—and as a result have more free time to enjoy Autumn birding—we have some win-win tips for you.

The Backyard Naturalist’s Backyard Birders Checklist for Autumn 2021:

Work your way down the list and after #7, stop and DO NOTHING. Seriously. Step away from the rake, and (please oh please) leave that noisy leaf blower in the shed and just let Autumn do its thing. The potential benefits of having an undisturbed layer of leaves in your yard are infinite. Come Spring nesting season, you’re going to be glad you ‘did nothing’ back in the Fall. If you’re not convinced already, we have some resources at the end of this post for you.

In fact, if we collectively check #8 off our list, backyard by backyard… this could be huge! But, first:

  1. Hummingbirds are on the move and your feeders are supporting Hummingbirds as they’re passing through! Keep feeders filled with fresh nectar.
    Keep Hummingbird feeders up for two weeks after your last sighting. This Will NOT keep your Hummers from migrating – promise! Any visitors now need to bulk up for an incredible migration! We will miss them so very much. See our Hummingbirds!!! page for more.
  2. Fall Migration is on!  Keep your bird baths clean with fresh water to lure in beautiful Fall migrants as they head south. These are mostly non-seed eaters, but water is essential to all wild birds and will encourage them to hang out and rest a bit.
  3. Goldfinches (and their newly-hatched broods) are active, too!  Remember, juveniles are the squeaky ones learning to navigate your nyjer feeders and discovering the tastiness of hulled sunflower kernels.. They are feeding voraciously, so you will need to keep a closer eye on seed levels.
  4. Don’t deadhead the flowers in your garden! Goldfinches will do it for you and it is pure joy to watch them in action.
  5. Clean out your bird houses to get them ready for winter roosting during bad weather. Chickadees, Carolina Wrens and Bluebirds will be particularly grateful!
  6. Check the freshness of your bird seed! It’s time to buy fresh if your seed is left over from last winter.  Oils in seed go rancid over time and are unhealthy. (Yes! It’s safe to put your feeders and bird baths out, if you put them away earlier due to the mysterious bird illness. See our previous post here, for more on that.)
  7. Clean your bird feeders!  Now’s the time to clean your feeders and remove any moldy remains from our hot and humid summer.
  8. Leave the leaves this year! If you rake up and throw away all of your leaves this fall, you’ll be getting rid of important habitat for countless beautiful and beneficial insects, many of which are pollinators.
    Come spring nesting season, you’ll be so glad you did! This leaf layer will nurture an invaluable and criticalsource of food for developing nestlings! We can all make a difference, backyard by backyard!!!  

Read ‘Leave the Leaves for Wildlife’ on the National Wildlife Federation website.

See our resource page ‘Supporting Native Pollinators’.

See Doug Tallamy ‘Bringing Nature Home’ video presentation on Vimeo.

Most important Autumn Checklist takeaway for 2021: Leave the leaves!!!

There are so many reasons to just stop doing so much Fall yard work. But here’s a good one: With the time saved by not raking and blowing leaves, you’ll have more time to focus on actual Autumn Backyard Birding!

Birding during Fall Migration is awesome! Keep your field guides and binoculars handy for unusual sightings, because you never know who’s going to show up! It won’t be long before Juncos and White-throated Sparrows make their appearance.

Thank you for supporting your backyard birds and all our efforts at The Backyard Naturalist,

Debi and Mike Klein & The Backyard Naturalist Team

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