When I mentioned Ron Pittaway’s Winter Finch Forecast a month ago, I didn’t list evening grosbeaks because (silly me) I didn’t believe they’d get this far. I was wrong. Evening grosbeaks have made it to western Pennsylvania. Woo hoo!
Evening grosbeaks (Coccothraustes vespertinus) are stocky yellow, black and white finches with heavy bills for cracking open seeds. They live year-round in coniferous forests across Canada, the northern Rockies, and the Cascades but move south when seed cones become scarce. This winter is one of those years.
Evening grosbeaks are a very big deal in Pennsylvania. They used to visit regularly in the 1970s but their population is declining, conditions changed, and they stopped coming our way. Their visits have been extremely spotty and intermittent for four decades. The one pictured above (left) visited Marcy Cunkelman’s feeder in November 2012. In Mt. Pocono, Pennsylvania they returned to Bruce Johnson’s feeders this month after an absence of 42 years!
The eBird map below (12 Nov 2018) shows where they’ve been seen since September. I added seven purple dots for locations mentioned on PABIRDS that weren’t entered in eBird. Notice the sightings in Crawford and Erie Counties!
Fill your feeders with black sunflower seed and cross your fingers. Check here for the latest evening grosbeak sightings on eBird (Sep-Dec 2018).
I hope we get lucky!
(photo by Marcy Cunkelman, screenshot of evening grosbeaks sightings Sep-Dec 2018 from eBird + enhanced from PABIRDS reports)