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.
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.
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
- Goldfinch Migration http://bit.ly/pEuMKo
- 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
- When should I clean my bird feeders? http://bit.ly/w0424S