What do birds do in July?

Baby northern mockingbird
Baby Northern Mockingbird. Photo: Steve Gifford

After the flurry of northward migration and the raucous breeding activity of our summer resident birds things appear to be much quieter in the world of birds by mid-summer. While it’s true that the intense singing to attract mates and establish nesting territory has subsided, our feathered friends are still quite busy during the heat of mid-summer. What are they doing?

For the most part, they are feeding their broods. Depending on the species, one or both parents initially forage for insects that they take back to the nest to feed the young. After the young fledge the nest the parent(s) continue to feed off the nest while simultaneously instructing the young how and where to find food on their own. If you’re a backyard bird feeder watch for this behavior at or near your feeders. Juveniles will chase their parents about, squawking loudly with wings aflutter begging for food from the adult. If you’re lucky enough to have a fledged brood of barred owls near your home listen for the raspy begging calls of the juveniles at night. If you feed hummingbirds you’ve probably noticed a dramatic increase in birds visiting your nectar feeders in mid-summer. You guessed it, juveniles have joined the party.

Another mid-summer activity among our feathered friends is rearing a second, or in some cases a third, fourth or even fifth, brood! Since more than half of first-year birds will not make it to adulthood, this adaptation is useful for sustaining the species. 

Summer is also a time when some species of shorebirds have left their Arctic breeding grounds on their return migration south. Adults leave first, often in June. Juveniles follow later in July and August. Regular visits to a marsh or wet fields after a heavy rain are sure to turn up views of these long-legged beauties.

Quieter, but no less busy, July is an active time in the bird world. So, grab your binoculars and experience birding in July!

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