Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Winter finch forecast - not good

My winter bird feeders are up again after a respite during the summer. The bird seed molds so quickly then, and the local birds are more inclined to find their own goodies without any help from me. So far, and not surprisingly, the feeders are thus far getting little action. One of the local chickadees stops by regularly, and the ubiquitous white-breasted nuthatch was the first to investigate the new food source. Nuthatches are nearly always the first bird to try the feeders when I first put them up again.

Even with the dry weather, food is still plentiful around the forest, so I don’t expect much activity at my feeders until after the first killing frost. That always spurs the local avian residents to appear on my back deck and investigate the new food source.

The winter finch forecast for this upcoming winter sounds pretty dismal, so I am not expecting to have any at my feeders. The finch forecast comes courtesy of Ron Pittaway, who’s been forecasting the arrival or not of northern finches for some years now. You can read his full report here: http://www.jeaniron.ca/2013/forecast.htm

The 2013-14 finch forecast shows that this is not an irruption year and that Ontario’s cone crops are in good supply. It’s only when that cone crop is poor to non-existent that large numbers of pine grosbeak, purple finch, crossbills, redpolls and the like head south in search of food. The only exception to the good crop comes from white pines. However, the crop in the Adirondacks is excellent this year so whatever finches do head south may well not go any further than there. And no movement of red-breasted nuthatches is expected this year.

So my feeding will likely be limited to the local birds, unless something from the north unexpectedly heads south. I’m not going to count on that, though. Perhaps this will be a good year for me to concentrate on finding a few unusual sparrows at Roundtop. I would be happy with that.


Pennypack Blogger said...

Red-breasted Nuthatches have appeared at my feeder as early as August in years past, so I've been keeping an eye on my feeder; this explains why I have yet to see one this year (and may not, for the rest of the cold season). Incidentally, despite the fact that natural food may be abundant, and that there are two new feeders about 200 feet from my own feeder, my feeder has been emptied every single day this summer and early fall. I think my birds must be lazy.

Carolyn H said...

PennyPack: Ron's finch forecast has pretty much been spot-on since he started it some years ago. Reading the forecast in detail suggests that a few places might see purple finch and siskins, but basically, don't hold your breath.