During a mild winter, it can be easy to start looking forward to the changing of the seasons and all the colorful and fun things that come along with spring. For backyard bird watchers, that means it’s time to start preparing for spring migration! 

Spring migration is the biggest time of the year for birds and bird enthusiasts alike as both groups get ready for the birds to make their way back into the region. In the midwest, bird watchers will start to keep an eye out to spot returning birds like Robins, Bluebirds, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Song Sparrows, and many more colorful backyard birds. Some of these different types of birds will stay and hang around your area, while others will continue their migration further north to nest and breed in the Northern U.S. and Canada. 

Now is the perfect time to start getting your backyard prepped, cleaned up, and stocked for all of the beautiful birds that will be coming back to the midwest this spring!

Preparing Your Yard & Feeders for Spring Feeding

Clean Up Old Feeders & Surrounding Areas

If you have been feeding during winter months, the first step you’ll want to take is getting your bird feeders and feeding areas cleaned up. The colder weather can be tough on your feeders and the food you’ve kept in there, so you’ll want to use mild soap and water to thoroughly clean out any old food, debris, and potential mold in your feeder. It’s also good practice to sweep and clean up any remaining seed that may have made its way to the ground surrounding your feeders. 

Taking this first step will prevent visiting birds from contracting illness and getting sick, as well as keeping your feeder clean to deter rodents and/or pests from visiting.

Wild bird Spring migration behavior patterns
Wild birds have different behaviors based on where they are on their migration journey. / Via Central Garden & Pet

Set Up Feeders, Waterers & Perching/Hiding Areas

During spring migration, there are a great number of birds making their way along the same northern path. This can make finding a good place to rest and feed a very competitive time for wild birds as safe, stocked areas are a hot commodity. They will be looking for a place where they can be fed, bathe themselves, drink some water, and feel safe while doing so. That’s why it’s important for backyard birders to get set up early and have your yard ready for the season.


Having your waterers or bird baths out in your yard and filled, will be an essential part of attracting birds during migration. Traveling birds really appreciate a safe source for clean, fresh water and will rely on these areas for bathing and hydrating during migration. You’ll also want to ensure you keep up with cleaning and refilling your waterers so you can keep the water fresh and prevent illness from passing back and forth between species.

Make sure to keep your waterers/bird baths placed in an area away from your feeders and in a safe place that will keep the birds away from any potential predators. Additionally, you’ll want to keep your water levels shallow (No more than 2-3 inches deep).

Perches & Other Hiding Areas

An important aspect of attracting birds and getting them to come back, is helping them to make themselves feel safe when they are visiting your backyard. Wild birds need space to be able to rest and sleep, as well as be higher up and have the ability to keep an eye out for predators. Having multiple places available for birds to perch will make your yard a lot more attractive for them to keep coming back to. 

Brush piles are another safe space for birds that you can create with supplies right from your backyard! Trim trees and shrubs in your area to create a brush pile in the space surrounding your feeders. This will give the birds a place to quickly retreat to if they need to hide from a predator, or if they just want a secure place to rest.

Nesting Boxes

While not an absolute must-have, adding a nesting box to your backyard birding setup can be beneficial. Having a nesting box available will provide a place for birds to keep coming back to for resting time, building a nest, or even breeding. However, birds are known to be extremely picky with where they nest, so it may take time for them to get comfortable within your nesting box.

Choosing Your Feed

Kaytee Spring Migration Blend wild bird food
Kaytee's Spring Migration Blend is a new all-around blend that's specially crafted to attract a variety of birds during migration

Once your backyard is set up and ready to go, you’ll need to fill your feeders with wild bird food! There are a ton of options out there to choose from, so you’ll need to narrow down exactly which type of bird you want to attract. If you’re looking to attract new types of birds, spring migration is the perfect time for this as there will be many different birds flying through the area. If you’re looking to have different types of birds in your backyard, it’s a good idea to have a few feeders spread out among your area, each with different types of food to attract different kinds of birds.

In addition to new visitors, your year-round backyard birds will be eager for this time of the year as well so they can feed on the fresh supply of food and bate in clean water after the winter months. 

One of the great new feeds that is built specifically for this time of the year is Kaytee’s Spring Migration Blend. This blend attracts a wide variety of migrating birds with its diverse mixture of ingredients that you won’t typically find in one single mix. The Spring Migration Blend contains mealworms and suet for insectivores, millet for small seed eaters, and even sunflower seeds, which are especially popular among most migrating birds. 

You can also opt for other great blends, specially made with specific birds in mind. 

Kaytee All American Blend is a great option that contains black oil sunflower seeds, grains, and other vitamins and minerals that can attract Cardinals, Chickadees, and Mourning Doves. 

Kaytee Midwest Regional Blend is of course a popular blend that is formulated for birds in the midwest and will surely be a hit with Cardinals, Chickadees, Woodpeckers, and more. 

Wild Delight’s Sizzle N’ Heat is a premium blend designed for birds only. While other critters may try to nibble at this food, once the heat settles in they’ll stop coming to your feeder and start looking for a new source of food.

Enjoy Your Spring Visitors

Three Finches on a bird feeder

While wild birds are getting set to embark on their journeys back up north, backyard bird watchers should be taking all these steps to get their yards prepped and ready to welcome all the different kinds of colorful birds that will be coming soon. With your feeders full of the good food they’re attracted to, all you’ll need to do is sit back and relax and enjoy the scenes of spring migration!

You can shop Fleet Farm’s wide selection of wild bird food, feeders, and more online at FleetFarm.com or at your local store.

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