About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

2012 Winter Finch Forecast: Good news for the birds

The good news is that Ontario Field Ornithologist Ron Pittaway has found that the cone crops are excellent and extensive across much of the boreal forest and northeast Canada. That means there will be plenty of food for the winter finches. The bad news is that more birds will stay up north this winter with little chance of irruptive migration to mid-Michigan. A bird irruption is an irregular migration of a large number of birds to areas where they aren’t typically found, usually motivated by the search for food.

Winter finches, perching birds in the family Fringillidae, are noted for their irruptive migrations south in the winter. They are made up of mainly seed-eating songbirds and most are native to the Northern Hemisphere.

10 Winter Finches in Michigan:
  1. Pine Grosbeak- The largest finch (8”-10”) in Michigan that shows up from the subartic and boreal forests across North America in erratic winter invasions.
  2. Purple Finch- A common migrant and winter resident statewide form September to May. Sticks close to forest edges and feeders with lots of tree cover and shrubs.
  3. House Finch- Native to western North America, the House Finch can now be seen year-round near human development. Many House Finches migrate south in fall and those that stay in very cold winters might not survive without feeders.
  4. American Goldfinch- Bright cheery bird even in its olive green winter wardrobe. Found year-round at Michigan bird feeders but numbers may increase greatly if northern birds’ food sources decline.
  5. Red Crossbill- They are considered the great gypsies of the bird community. They wander through conifer forests looking for pine cones. Their unusual cross bill is perfect to pry open conifer cones.
  6. White-winged Crossbill- With the bumper crop of seeds up north in 2012, these crossbills are unlikely to visit mid-Michigan this year.
  7. Common Redpolls- A predictably unpredictable winter visitor. Some years the flocks are greater than others.
  8. Hoary Redpolls- They can often be found mixed in with flocks of Common Redpolls and irrupt every few years.
  9. Pine Siskin- Small brown and tan streaked bird with flashes of yellow. Found year-round in Michigan but more common some years than others.
  10. Evening Grosbeak- One of the largest finches at 8” it’s almost twice the size of its close relative, the American Goldfinch. They were given the name Evening because that’s when they were originally only thought to sing and grosbeak is french for large beak.
For Ron Pittaway's complete Winter Finch Forecast 2011-2012 go to: http://www.ofo.ca/reportsandarticles/winterfinches.php

Related Articles:
Goldfinch Migration http://bit.ly/pEuMKo 
House Finches: Those Year-round Red Heads http://bit.ly/opD7kb
Bird of the week: Pine Siskin http://bit.ly/qNqIuK
Birdwatching: Look for the Out-of-Towners http://bit.ly/q6Pkco
Comparing House Finches and Purple Finches http://bit.ly/oOogOf
Where do you place finch feeders? http://bit.ly/p4XHU4

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