Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Autumn's birds are arriving, summer's birds are going, going...
I’ve been seeing flocks of sparrows, too, flittering half a dozen at a time, never stopping long enough for me to identify them. Sometimes I think they are all chipping sparrows, but they can’t all be chipping sparrows, can they? The light is so dull and dark at the edges of the day and the birds are so flittery that I never get a good look at them. I simply see them, never pausing very long, little bundles of motion. I keep checking their tail feathers for signs of juncos. The light is just barely good enough to distinguish that white outer tail feather against the juncos’ slate gray, but so far I haven’t seen them either. Soon, though, perhaps this weekend, the first of them will arrive.
Red-breasted nuthatches are moving south this year after mostly staying up north last year. I’ve seen several already and heard more. They’ve come to my dad’s feeders, my own. I’ve heard them on Waggoner’s Gap hawkwatch and heard them in my own woods. This year's winter finch forecast also predicts purple finch will head south this year, but I haven’t seen any of those yet. Once, a few weeks ago, I thought I might have heard several of them, but I wasn’t sure enough to record them as such.
Other predictions from Ron Pittaway’s winter finch forecast, which is based on the supply (or not) of cone crops in Canada, are that the crossbills will likely stay up north. Common redpolls are predicted to head south, but pine siskins will likely stay up north. The Yukon apparently has a bumper crop of white spruce cone this year, which will keep the siskins, bohemian waxwings, pine grosbeaks and especially the white-winged crossbills happy in the north.