You know it’s fall when…

you start seeing the wandering avian horde descend on the bird feeders.  This morning, there must have been 50 grackles all crowding around trying to get at the food.  Last week it was the House Finch and Goldfinch horde.

No room for Mr Chickadee at this feeder.

No room for Mr Chickadee at this feeder. The House Finch parents have taught their youngsters well — food is found at round or square objects tethered to poles.

What’s going on with all this binge eating? It’s not just the birds doing this, either. The chipmunks spend all day stuffing their cheek pouches to bursting, the squirrels are madly harvesting the walnut and buckeye seed crops, cutting the down from the trees and leaving their huskings all over the backyard.

Can those cheek pouches get any fuller?

Can those cheek pouches get any fuller?

The fall feeding frenzy is triggered by decreasing daylength, which stimulates the hunger center in the brain, and suppresses the opposing satiety center that normally would send a signal that you are full.  Thus, animals keep eating, and if it won’t fit in the digestive tract to be turned into body fat, then they stockpile it somewhere in the environment for future consumption — a burrow, a crack or hole in a tree, an exposed portion of the siding on your house.

Seeing the animals around us prepare for winter hibernation (or preparing to migrate before winter sets in) should be a cue to us to start preparing as well.  But the temperatures are still warm, and the daylength is still long enough to enjoy summer evenings, so we procrastinate.

There’s still time…

6 thoughts on “You know it’s fall when…

    • So true, but they remember where a lot of the stash is, probably more than humans could do under the same circumstances. I forget where I have left the book I’m reading from one day to the next.

    • Unfortunately, humans are not immune to this fall feasting either. Do you find that you have starch cravings when the days get to be about 12 hours of light? Eating lots of starch results in putting on a nice layer of fat. Some people think that humans especially those living at high latitudes fattened up in the fall, then slept most of the winter, arousing just to eat and go back to sleep–kind of like chipmunks actually.

  1. Can fall be almost here? There are the signs in nature that you point to and how can I avoid the back-to-school commercials? It won’t be long before I look for signs of migrating birds, though I think it is a bit early for us here in Virginia. By the way, I love your final photo. The bright eyes and bulging cheeks make for a wonderful shot.

    • I think the weather tries to fool us into thinking it is still summer, but the daylength has gotten surprisingly short of late, and that is a key signal.

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