Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Invasion of the Winter Finches

It seems many aspects of Ron Pittaway's Winter Finch Forecast are well vetted already, before winter has even begun. Winter finches are invading! Ron predicted southward irruptions out of Ontario of Evening Grosbeak, Pine Siskin, Redpolls, Bohemian Waxwings, and more. Many of these species have already been seen in numbers in the Cayuga Lake Basin or nearby.

Matt Young summarizes the invasion so far in a post on cayugabirds-l:

Pine Grosbeaks in small numbers in most NE state --Mass(1 ind), ME, VT, NH and NY; Bohemian Waxwings in widespread numbers from most NE states(only an ind from Mass); Common Redpoll in every NE state except Vermont, Conn. RI(including a sighting in Cortland); Pine Siskins and E. Grosbeaks in numbers from Ontario to Carolinas; Shrikes are moving in good numbers too; Boreal Chickadees and Black-backed Woodpeckers moving; and some indication of hawks and owls moving as well. Lets hope many linger in NY. Should be interesting.

I think the story of this invasion so far is how widespread and early the Bohemian Waxwings are. They can be found in numbers in ME, VT, NH, NY and it's still October. Could they be the next Evening Grosbeak?

Here in the Basin, Evening Grosbeaks have been present (although enigmatic, rarely staying in one place for more than one day) for several weeks. Pine Siskins have been present in larger numbers and have put on a good show for many local birders. Northern Shrikes have been reported already several times. Lapland Longspurs have been an enigmatic presence since as early as September, and Snow Buntings are now being reported. Bohemian Waxwings haven't reached the Basin yet, but Matt Young reports on them in NY from another cayugabirds-l post:

Don't know for sure if this is still accurate(I think it is though), but according to Bull's Birds of NY the earliest previous record for Bohemian Waxwing was October 28th, thus making Jeff Bolsinger's Fort Drum bird on Oct 24th the new early date. Also, Dave Wheeler's 10 Bohemian Waxwings in Wayne County on Oct 25 and Matt Medler's 49 in Willsboro today (Oct 28th) are also early. Bohemian Waxwings have now been recorded in NY, Vermont, NH and Maine. An annual fall Ontario bird count recorded a record 169 Bohemian Waxwings today. Evening Grosbeaks and Pine Siskins are widespread and reported from all NE states. Pine Grosbeaks have been reported in Maine, NH, and Vermont. 100's of Common Redpolls and now 4 Hoary Redpolls were reported from a banding station in Michigan today. Common Redpoll has also been reported from Penn, NY, Mass and Maine. Flocks of both crossbills can still be found here and there.

And, in the last two days 2 Boreal Chickadees and a Gray Jay were reported from Massachusetts, a state this normally resident species does NOT breed in. And lastly, numbers of Black-backed woodpeckers have been seen flying south past observation points to the north.

Things are looking interesting.

Interesting, indeed. Another species has been present recently in the Basin: Red Crossbill. This one bred over the summer near the Basin to the East, so is not unusual. What could prove interesting is an analysis of the call type and comparison to the call type(s) that were breeding in the area. Saw-whet Owls are also having an excellent migration according to banders.

I am eager to see what this fall and winter has yet to reveal.

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