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Winter Finch Forecast: Finch Irruption This Winter

11-23-18 common redpoll IMG_3634Things are looking up for those of us who look forward to winters when boreal finches come south in relatively large numbers in search of food.  This is an irruption year for winter finches in the East due to the poor cone and birch seed production in northern Ontario and Quebec.  Seed-eating birds such as finches, grosbeaks, redpolls and siskins will be frequenting our feeders.

Even at this early date, Evening Grosbeak sightings are up noticeably.  Pine Grosbeaks will be taking advantage of good Mountain-ash berry and cone production in New England.  Purple Finch numbers should also be healthy this winter. While Red Crossbills sightings may be scarce, White-winged Crossbills sightings may well be up due to the poor cone crops in the eastern boreal forest. Both Common and Hoary Redpolls should be numerous this winter due to poor crops of birch, alder and conifer seeds further north.

In addition to these finches, large numbers of Blue Jays, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Bohemian Waxwings are predicted due to poor nut, conifer seed and berry crops, respectively, further north. (Ron Pittaway’s Winter Finch Forecast, 2018-2019, )  (Photo: Common Redpoll)

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13 responses

  1. Marilyn

    That’s exciting!

    November 23, 2018 at 8:10 am

  2. Alice Pratt

    Would be really fun to see some additional, different, birds. We have a few Blue Jays, White breasted Nuthatches….would love to see a Waxwing, a favorite of mine as a kid, when we played the “bird lotto” game.

    November 23, 2018 at 8:46 am

  3. Alice Pratt

    I wonder how the birds “know”…or do they just “wing it” (!) that there will be more seeds south of an area where the cone and seed production isn’t plentiful enough.

    November 23, 2018 at 8:49 am

    • Excellent question, Alice. Afraid I don’t know why they go searching in any one direction! Will try to find out!

      November 23, 2018 at 5:51 pm

      • Alice Pratt

        ….just like we had an irruption year of gorgeous Snowies…..

        November 23, 2018 at 11:42 pm

  4. Knox Johnson

    Relative to this, I’m pretty sure I saw a small flock of Snow Buntings near the Welcome to Hartland sign on RT 5 N around noon on Wednesday.

    November 23, 2018 at 11:04 am

  5. This is good news for those who feed the birds, but not so great for the birds. Thanks for letting us in on this.

    November 23, 2018 at 12:59 pm

  6. Kathryn

    I’m sorry they are hungry,, but I will be glad to see them. Good thing there is no “wall” to block them.

    November 23, 2018 at 1:25 pm

  7. Ought to be a good year at the bird feeders!

    November 23, 2018 at 5:15 pm

  8. diane bartholomew

    why are we finding little sprigs of pine everywhere on the snow covered ground? are the squirrels breaking off little end pieces? or is this a natural early winter shedding?

    November 24, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    • Diane, Are you sure that they are pine sprigs and not hemlock or some other conifer? Porcupines and red squirrels will nip ends of hemlock branches off and drop them after eating the tender buds. Red squirrels also feed on balsam fir buds and drop the tips.

      November 25, 2018 at 10:16 am

  9. My grandmother had a dozen Evening Grosbeak at her feeder this morning in Wales, MA!

    November 29, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    • Lucky her! They are more numerous this winter, that’s for sure.

      November 29, 2018 at 2:30 pm

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