September – A Natural Harvest
September is one of the best months for birds to eat out in fields and hedgerows. The harvest season brings wild fruits, berries and seeds a plenty and many birds will leave gardens and feast in more rural settings.
While this might make your garden feel a little devoid of birds like in August, this is a great time to do some maintenance.
Some species of garden bird have multiple broods and may use nesting boxes throughout spring and summer. By September though, birds will have flown the nest and be busy eating everything up for the coming winter. That makes September the perfect time to clean out nesting boxes!
Cleaning out Nesting Boxes
Watch the nesting box beforehand just to ensure there are no birds still using it (unlikely in September) and then empty the old nest out from inside. You can clean the box using hot water and washing liquid, and make sure it’s completely dry before putting it back up again.
When cleaning out nesting boxes, don’t use insecticide or flea powder, even if you find these creatures inside. Toxins like these can stay in the wood and harm future birds using the nest.
When you empty the old nest, you may find unhatched eggs. This is normal as most birds lay more eggs to ensure a good brood but it’s common for one or two not to hatch. As the nest is old, you can throw the unhatched egg(s) away on the compost heap.
Cleaning out the nesting boxes limits the risk of insects and bacteria gaining a foothold and will appeal to birds looking for roosting or nesting options later. Remember that some birds, like wrens, roost in nesting boxes during cold winters, so cleaning the boxes in September and putting them back up again gives these little birds ample to time to find a roosting place.
If you like, once the washed box is totally dry, you can put a handful of fresh wood shavings or hay into the nesting box to increase the chances of dormice or birds roosting there over winter. Don’t use straw or any wood shavings with paint or treatments on them.
Autumn is a fantastic time for fruit picking and September is one of the best months for making jam and making wines and ciders from fruit. If you go hedgerow picking for blackberries and other delicious berries, remember to get an extra handful for those birds who are still hopping about in your garden!
Last but not least
September is a good time to buy new bird nest boxes and get a bird bath for you’ve garden. Because many birds are temporarily away in rural areas enjoying a harvest feast, you can put up boxes and new baths or feeders in time for them to come back and get used to them being there.
New nest boxes especially are great to put up in winter as birds not only like to roost in them, but as they nest hunt from February, this gives them lots of time to trust the box and the area it’s in.
If you have a large garden, this 4 pack of small garden bird nesting boxes is a fantastic way to start.
If you want to attract sparrows to your garden (they’re numbers are falling so it’s important to help them out) then this sparrow-specific box is ideal.