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Canadian Conifer and Deciduous Tree Seed Crops Affect New England’s Winter Bird Population

11-10-15 pine siskin 185Every year Ron Pittaway publishes a forecast of the movements of winter finches in the upcoming winter (http://ebird.org/content/canada/news/ron-pittaways-winter-finch-forecast-2015-2016/). Although his report focuses on Ontario, he includes the effect that the Canadian seed crops have on northern New England’s winter bird population. A poor crop of a given seed (spruce, birch, etc.) in Canada inevitably drives finches that feed on that seed to search for food elsewhere, often further south. For instance, because White Spruce crops are low in Ontario this year and high in northern New England, we may well see high numbers of Pine Siskins (see photo).

Pittaway predicts we may also see higher than usual Purple Finch numbers (poor cone and deciduous tree seed crops in Ontario), perhaps White-winged Crossbills (poor spruce cone crop in Ontario), and more Common Redpolls (poor birch seed crop in Ontario) this winter. Time to fill feeders, sit back and see how accurate his forecast actually is!

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5 responses

  1. Penny

    When are the bears in bed? Any predictions in this crazy weather?

    November 11, 2015 at 7:59 am

    • There have been years when males, especially, never went into hibernation. All depends on temperature and available food supply. Plenty of acorns this year, and warmer temperatures…they could be around for some time!

      November 11, 2015 at 9:01 am

    • p.s. In a typical year, black bears normally are hibernating by the end of November/beginning of December.

      November 11, 2015 at 9:02 am

  2. Ellen Halperin

    Where I live–very rural and heavily wooded, with a healthy bear population–I believe it is not safe to put feeders out at all until mid-December. Even taking them in at night may not prevent bear mischief and possible tragedy (for the bear).

    November 11, 2015 at 10:23 am

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