Thursday, October 30, 2008

Winter's coming--finches too

This morning I saw three dark-eyed juncos, marking the first time this year I’ve seen more than one at a time. The morning is dawning clear, after several days of clouds and three types of precipitation (rain, sleet and snow), but it’s still almost dark when I leave the cabin. That will change in two days when we "fall back" an hour’s time this weekend. The mornings still will likely not be light enough for a photograph, but maybe I’m wrong about that and it will be.

Now that this big nor’easter is past, I’m expecting that the next day or so will be particularly active around the woods. Hawks and songbirds both migrate heavily after big storms. Their migration is bolstered by a backlog of birds waiting out the storm, plus the storms apparently focus the birds’ attention on heading south. If the weather is good and food supplies are decent, they will hang around in their summer grounds and not feel the urge to move.

It may well be another good year for winter finch irruptions to the south. Hawkwatches are reporting huge numbers of pine siskins, especially, moving south over the past week or so. A few hawkwatches have counted 1200-1500 each day. Ron Pittaway has posted a detailed winter finch forecast here on e-Bird that focuses on the abundance of far northern food supplies as the predictor for each individual species. Locally, some red-breasted nuthatches have been reported already—none at my feeders yet, where the action is still limited to the local birds and activity is just starting to pick up.

The prospect of seeing northern finches is always exciting for me. Last year was a good one for me with redpolls, purple finch and red-breasted nuthatch all showing up. I know that these birds are down here because they’ve had a rough year up north, but if they come south, I promise to feed them well, so they will be good and fat when they head back north in the spring.


Lynne said...

I've read similar reports here in Minnesota. There have all reay been Snowy Owls in the state and The posibilty of another owl irruption year is being discussed.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Carolyn, I enjoyed your blog. Check mine out in the morning... I will share my Goldfinch with you!!!! I waited for a long time to see them at our feeders. NOW--we have PLENTY!!! ha

Carolyn H said...


Thanks for stopping by my blog. That's some nice goldfinch you have at your site.

Carolyn h.