Nov 03 2014
Ron Pittaway’s Winter Finch Forecast predicted pine siskins would move south this winter but no one expected the numbers seen in eastern Pennsylvania in the third week of October.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary counted about 3,000 per day for several days, including 3,147 on October 23. Andy Markel and Bill Oyler counted 739 heading southwest in Horse Valley, Franklin County on October 25.
Numbers were lower in western Pennsylvania where the largest count mentioned on PABIRDS was 50 on October 20 in Allegheny County.
Interestingly, Pittaway’s forecast accounts for this. In his assessment of northern tree seed crops (i.e. finch food) he wrote: “Spruce cone crops are variable in Ontario … East of Ontario cone crops are generally poor in the Atlantic Provinces, New York State, New Hampshire and other northern New England States.” That means that pine siskins northeast of the Appalachians would certainly move through Pennsylvania while those directly north of Pittsburgh might find a good seed crop and not bother to fly this far south.
Though they’re still being reported in Pennsylvania the numbers are more normal now in random flocks of 15 to 20 — at least on PABIRDS.
Where will that surge of siskins end up? West Virginia? The Great Smoky Mountains (where it snowed already)? It’s probably too soon to tell.
(photo by Shawn Collins, Crawford County, 2 November 2014)