Winter birding can be boring in Pittsburgh but not this year. The finches are coming!
According to Ron Pittaway’s Winter Finch Forecast, we’re going to see a lot of northern finches this winter because the “cone, alder and birch seed crops are poor to low in most of Ontario and the Northeast.” These irruptive birds usually stay in Canada all year but move south, east and west in autumn when there’s not enough to eat. Here are a few of the “treats” in store for us in western Pennsylvania.
Above, common redpolls (Acanthis flammea) are a goldfinch-sized birds with rosy chests, rosy caps, and black faces. When they first arrive it takes them a while to notice bird feeders but when they do they cause a mob scene. Look carefully in the flock for a very similar white-chested bird, the rare hoary redpoll (Acanthis hornemanni).
Purple finches (Haemorhous purpureus) are northern visitors that resemble our familiar house finches but male purple finches are “purple” as if they were dipped head first in berry juice. Even their flank stripes are rosy, not brown. Here’s a guide for telling the difference between Purple and House finches.
Two irruptive non-finch species have already arrived as indicators of good birds to come.
Blue jays! Yes, those crowds of blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata) are visiting from Canada. They love acorns.
Learn what to expect in the 2018 Winter Finch Forecast. Fill your feeders and keep watch.
Don’t be disappointed if blue jays come to visit. They’re the harbinger of good things to come.