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, September 29, 2012

Bad News / Good News on the upcoming bird watching season

Red-breasted Nuthatch
The bad news is that Canada’s natural seed crops were horrible this year and lots of birds that usually like to winter further north are going to have venture south to Michigan to find food. The good news is that Canada’s natural seed crops were horrible this year and lots of birds that usually like to winter further north are going to have venture south to Michigan to find food. So we are going to have a few “new” birds at our feeders this winter.

Every year ornithologist Ron Pittaway analyzes the cone and berry crops of the boreal forest to predict if certain birds will irrupt into the northern U.S. or remain further north. A bird irruption is an irregular migration of a large number of birds to areas where they aren’t found typically, motivated usually by the search for food. This year Ron Pittaway's 2012-2013 Winter Finch Forecast predicts several birds may irrupt into Michigan.
Pine Siskin

I was surprised when a customer told me that she saw a red-breasted nuthatch in early September. Then I also saw several sitting casually by me as I refilled my feeders. And when I listened, I heard all the laughing in the air. Their song is a nasal, happy, laughing call similar to woodpeckers. When these birds visit Michigan, they usually hook up with other local nuthatches, woodpeckers, and chickadees to forage for food.

A few Red-breasted Nuthatches at our mid-Michigan feeders during the winter is common but to see such a widespread irruption beginning mid-summer indicated a cone crop failure in the Northeast. Feeders to attract Red-breasted Nuthatches to your yard should hold seeds like sunflower, peanuts or suet.

Common Redpoll
A few more birds the report expects us to see this fall and winter:
- Pine Siskins currently in the Northeast should move south this fall and winter because cone crops are poor.
- Common Redpolls because the white birch seed crop is poor to fair across the north.
- Purple Finches because both coniferous and deciduous hardwood seed crops are very low this year in the Northeast.
- Pine Grosbeaks because the mountain ash berry crop are hard with low moisture content because of the drought in the boreal forest.
- Bohemian Waxwings because the mountain ash berry crop in the boreal forest was affected by drought.
- Evening Grosbeaks because coniferous and hardwood tree seed supplies are low.

For the full 2012-2013 Winter Finch Forecast go to: http://www.ofo.ca/ofo-docs/WinterFinchForecast2012-2013.pdf

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