Are you going to see a lot of grosbeaks and other finches in your bird feeders this winter?
The winter of 2021-22 should not be a year of inrush, which would send finch species like the Evening Grosbeak from the tree forests of northern Canada south to backyard feeders in Pennsylvania.
Based on food sources in northern forests, finches should only move south to their normal southern wintering grounds in southeastern Canada and northeastern United States, noted Tyler Hoar, an ornithologist / independent consultant and winter finch forecaster, in the Finch Research Network Winter Finch Annual Forecast.
âThere will be movements of most finches depending on the species and location in the boreal forest. So you will be able to find most of the species, but it won’t be like last year when it came to so many backyards. This year you will most likely have to go get them, âhe wrote.
While extreme weather will have a major impact in the west, from Lake Superior eastward into the boreal forest, there is a “patchwork of poor to medium evergreen cone crops.” However, âalong the southern edge of the boreal forest, a belt of good to exceptional food crops is reported from Lake Superior east through central Ontario, southern Quebec to Atlantic Canada to in Newfoundland, south to northern New England and upstate New York, âreported Frost.
âIt should be a good winter to see finches in traditional hotspots such as Ontario’s Algonquin Park, Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains, New York’s Adirondack Mountains, Atlantic Canada, and the northern New York states. -England.”
Here is the outlook for individual Hoar species:
Evening Grosbeak: In the fall of 2020, we experienced a generational rush of nocturnal grosbeaks to the south. With that, we could experience an echo flight this fall. This year there is the âfood beltâ between the 4 major spruce budworm outbreaks in eastern Canada and where they also erupted last winter.
In the east, expect some birds to stay in the boreal forest and others to move south into central Ontario, southern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, the New States. -England, New York and maybe Pennsylvania for the winter.
- It’s official: we just saw the biggest evening grosbeak movement in Pennsylvania in 20 years
Pine Grosbeak: There is a good to excellent harvest of rowan berries from Lake Superior to the east. This should keep most of the Pine Grosbeaks closer to home this winter.
The drought hit the rowan and other berry crops west of Lake Superior the most, with many berries shriveling on the stalk. The rowan harvest in this region to the west, although the boreal forest generally appears poor with some areas of excellent harvest. Parts of the Midwestern states and cities of western Canada may see herds of hungry grosbeaks in search of fruit-bearing ornamental trees and feeders well stocked with black sunflower seeds.
Red Crossbill: With very poor cone harvests reported from northwestern Ontario west to Alaska, 2 visible movements of White-winged Crossbills have already been observed this summer. In western North America, White-winged Crossbills have moved south into the southern states of British Columbia / Alberta and the Pacific Northwest, and some- a few have recently been reported as far south as Utah.
From late June to July, there was an eastward movement in the high spruce harvest areas of eastern North America, particularly in Maine, the Maritimes and Terre -New. This winter, expect to see White-winged Crossbills from central Ontario east to Newfoundland and south to northern New York and New York. -England, visiting traditional winter finch hot spots. We can even see White-winged Crossbills far from forests using bountiful crops on native and ornamental spruce trees planted in urban environments.
Red Crossbill: There is a good spruce and hemlock crop throughout central Ontario to the southern Maritimes and northeastern states. Red Crossbills are in their usual coniferous haunts, and this should continue for much of the winter. Red Crossbills can also be found south of boreal areas where good Norway spruce forests are found.
Purple finch: Most years, Purple Finches migrate south out of Canada. This year, most of the birds are expected to leave, but we expect some to remain in central Ontario to the Maritimes.
Between an observer reporting “a crazy number of purple finches” in mid-August and the Tadoussac Bird Observatory having even stronger movements towards the southwest in Quebec this year than in 2020, this species seems to continue to benefit from an abundant food source during the breeding season in the 4 major epidemics of spruce budworm.
Common and ashy sizerins: Since the birch, alder, and spruce seed crops are medium to good, most sizerines will likely stay in northern Lake Superior to the east. As winter progresses, some flow of herds to southern Canada and neighboring border states may occur.
Pine siskin: With the excellent harvest of spruce, hemlock and red cedar in southeastern Canada and the northeastern border states, most eastern pine siskins are expected to remain in this region for the winter. .
The annual report also noted 3 species other than finches that can experience years of irruption:
Blue jay : There will be moderate flight along the northern shores of Lakes Ontario and Erie. Crops of oak, beechnut and hazelnut are variable in central and southern Ontario, ranging from none to good. Insect defoliation damaged many seed crops. Many blue jays are expected to visit feeders this winter in southern Canada.
Red-breasted nuthatch: Although there currently appears to be a small echo flight, most eastern red-breasted nuthatches are expected to remain in the northeast food belt. Birds west of Lake Superior are expected to move in search of food this fall.
Bohemian waxwing: Most of the northern waxwings in eastern North America will remain in the boreal forest this winter because the rowan berry crops are good to excellent from Lake Superior to Newfoundland and Labrador. West of Lake Superior there should be more herd movements looking for areas of rowan crops.
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