First Signs of Autumn

First Signs of Autumn

September 17, 2019
Red-Tailed Hawk

Signs of autumn are in the air. Anyone who’s sweated their way through a long hot summer might be ready for a change of season. What says autumn to you?

The September equinox arrives on September 23, 2019, but signs of autumn are all around us.


Have you noticed it’s darker now in the mornings? The sun is rising later—and setting earlier, too.  The days get noticeably shorter as it gets dark earlier each night. See your Sunrise/Sunset Times and Length of Day.

If you closely observe the Sun’s path across the sky, you’ll see the arc is shifting south.  Did you know that birds and butterflies migrate along with the path of the Sun?


Many readers report that their hummingbirds have left or are leaving for warmer climates as early as mid-August. Hawks, geese, and swallows (and butterflies) are migrating south for the winter.

Near The Old Farmer’s Almanac in New Hampshire is a mountain. At the summit, you’ll view kettles of hawks soaring in the sky. The hawk migration means that their food supply of frogs, snakes, and forest creatures is dwindling—a clear sign of summer’s end! Read more about hawks and birds of prey.

Some butterflies stay closer to home and begin to seek shelter for the cooler months. Try to leave some leaf litter for your beneficial insects!


Birds aren’t the only creatures hinting that cold weather’s coming. Our Almanac publisher saw a bear crossing the road in the middle of her walk! Late August to mid-September is prime time for blackberries. Bears are gorging to build up their fat stores before they hibernate.

Folklore says …

It is going to be a tough winter if bears are seen berrying.


If you walk dogs, you’ll be very aware that the squirrels are back. They’re collecting ripe brown acorns for their winter stash. Lots of seeds are falling now.

According to folklore …

If the oak bear much mast [acorns], it foreshadows a long and hard winter.


Of course, another way we know autumn’s approaching is to observe the plants.  Squash, pumpkin, nuts, and apples are ready for harvest. The other vegetables in the garden are slowing down, ending their cycle of growth.

Acorns, pinecones, and Sycamore “helicopters” fall to the ground. Mushrooms and other fungi pop up everywhere.

Grass doesn’t grow as fast. You’ll also see morning dew. Fall flowers such as asters and goldenrods begin to bloom.

The leaves on many of the trees are starting to change color.  Observe the reds, oranges, yellows, and browns of falling leaves. Interestingly, leaves do not change because of cooler temperatures. Find out why autumn leaves change colors.


It’s not just the tree’s colorful clothing that changes. It’s our own!  Shorter days means cooler weather’s coming. The air begins to feel crisper, especially in the morning.

The air begins to smell a bit different.

The direction of the wind changes and windy days become more common. Hurricanes and tropical storms begin to happen.

Get ready to add a layer of clothes for a walk in the woods!  Add a soft blanket to the sofa.  Get cozy!

Fall also means picking up the newest edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac for winter weather predictions!

What says autumn to you? Just comment in the box below (and include your location!).

About This Blog

Your Old Farmer’s Almanac editors occasionally share our reflections, advice, and musings—and welcome your comments!