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The Forecast Calls for Finches
The "Irruption" Begins
They will come for our spruce and birch, for our sunflowers and suet. They will visit our most remote forests and our backyard feeders. They will flash red and yellow, gray and black. And they will come and go like the winter winds.
Finches and other visitors from the far north have already begun to show up in New England and northern tier states. And the forecast is for more of them. Lots more. Now is the winter of our “irruption.” Not an eruption — these birds aren’t exploding or anything that. To irrupt is indeed a verb. In this case, it basically means birds as flash mobs.
Already migrating and mobbing are Bohemian Waxwings, Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, Pine Grosbeaks (that’s one above) and the vanguard of what could be waves of Common Redpolls. These songbirds are, in large part, refugees driven south by a lack of food in their customary wintering grounds. These irruptions aren’t usually a sign of crisis or anything amiss. Food supplies vary, after all, and birds do have wings. Good for us.
To my mind, the two most charismatic visitors are Evening Grosbeak and Bohemian Waxwing. We haven’t seen Evening Grosbeaks in numbers like these in, oh, I dunno, maybe 30 years. Back then they would storm the feeders. Pigs with wings, gobbling the seed. And I never got tired of them. It’s nice to have them back, even if only for one winter.
Bohemian Waxwings — well, a no brainer. They’re among the most beautiful birds on the continent. Sluggish and unwary, silky and sultry, “Bohunks” can turn up almost anywhere they might find fruit. That includes ornamental crabapples in our downtowns. I’ve seen more Bohemian Waxwings here in Montpelier, Vermont, than anywhere.
The links below will usher you to eBird maps of sightings since November 1. (For what it’s worth, I’ve included a link to my Snowy Owl Scoop because owls are also arriving from the north.) And for the full foreshadowing, get Ron Pittaway’s official 2018-2019 Winter Finch Forecast. Onward!
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