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.
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.
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…