It’s that time of the year, again, when the leaves fall and the birders’ hopes soar. It’s good news and bad news. First, the bad news: It looks like the conifer seed crop in Canada is not so good this year. The good news: Consequently, many of the northern finch species should be flocking to the northeast of the U.S. searching for food. We can always hope for some of those rarities to come to our feeders, however, most will find the supply of natural food more to their liking in places like the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
According to Ron Pittaway, a guru of the first order, and a member of the Ontario Field Ornithologists, this is an irruption (flight) year for winter finches in the East. Cone and birch seed crops are poor to low in most of Ontario and the Northeast, with a few exceptions such as Newfoundland which has an excellent spruce crop. It will be a quiet winter in the North Woods. Expect flights of winter finches into southern Ontario, southern Quebec, Maritime Provinces, New York and New England States, with some finches going farther south into the United States. Stock your bird feeders because many birds will have a difficult time finding natural foods this winter.
We’ve some early evidence of this invasion. One of our favorites, the diminutive Red-breasted Nuthatch has shown up this week. In fact, we counted three birds today at and around our feeder array. Fingers crossed for Pine Grosbeaks and Bohemian Waxwings.