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There are a number of winter finches that are predicted to irrupt into the northeast this fall and winter due to poor cone and seed crops. I will go through the status of each winter finch in the northeast thus far. I also included Snowy Owl in this post as they are an interesting irruptive species that may make a decent push into the northeast this winter.. Click on each map to see the sightings for the entire country and Canada. These sightings are from August through November 2012.
Pine Grosbeaks appear to be making solid push into the northeast over the last few weeks with six individuals being reported as far south as Amherst, Massachusetts. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the winter plays out for this species to see how far south they will venture. As far as Delaware goes, there is only one accepted record for the state.
Purple Finches are being seen throughout much of the east in high concentrations and as far south as Mobile County, Alabama where one individual was reported on 11 November 2012.
Red Crossills are making a nice movement south with birds being reported in the east as far south as Bartow County, Georgia where four individuals were reported on 18 November 2012. Reports of as many as 100 individuals have been reported from Cape Henlopen Hawkwatch in Delaware. If possible, take a recording of birds calling or singing and send them to Matt Young at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (may6 AT cornell DOT edu).
Matt wrote a nice piece on eBird discussing each Type of Red Crossbill and included spectrograms and audio files of flight calls for each type.
White-winged Crossbills are making a strong push into the northeast this fall, more specifically over the last several weeks. Nate and I had several flocks a few weeks ago in Clearfield County, PA (Check out our post on Clearfield County Crossbills!). Reports are coming in from the southern limit of Virginia Beach, VA with one individual reported on 18 November 2012.
Highest concentrations of Common Redpolls are being reported around the Great Lakes, but they appear to be dispersing southward with some intensity. Birds are being reported in North Carolina with one individual on 18 November 2012 in Orange County.
There are a few scattered reports of Hoary Redpolls mixed in with feeding flocks of Common Redpolls. The furthest south report comes from Cumberland County, Maine, where one individual was reported on 11 November 2012.
Pine Siskins are being reported all over the east with highest concentrations coming along the coast, but also good numbers are being reported inland. Siskins are being reported in Florida and south Texas. Four individuals were reported in Orange County, Florida on 20 November 2012 and one being reported during the RGV Birding Festival in Cameron County, Texas on 8 November 2012.
Evening Grosbeaks, the ABA Bird of the Year, continues to put on a show in the northeast. Birds are showing up into central North Carolina with one individual reported in Catawba County on 16 November 2012. There have been plenty of grosbeak sightings and I was fortunate to see a few in Indiana County, PA at the beginning of November (Check out Evening Grosbeaks visit the Higbee’s Yard!)
Nuthatches, the story of the newly revived I and the Bird. Red-breasted Nuthatches are making an impressive push south with many birds being reported along the Gulf Coast. Birds are being reported in St. Petersberg, Florida and South Padre Island in Texas.
Scattered reports of Bohemian Waxwings are coming from much of the northeast and Great Lakes regions, with highest concentrations in northern Vermont. Birds are being observed as far south as Massachusetts, where one individual was reported on 26 October 2012 in Barnstable County. Mike McDowell had one in his Wisconsin backyard on 16 November 2012. Keep sifting through the large flocks of Cedar Waxwings!
I know this isn’t a winter finch, but it is still “irruptive.” There are a few scattered Snowy Owl reports in the northeast thus far, but they may stage a push of variable size over the next few weeks. One bird was found in Pennsylvania and was taken to a rehabilitation center for treatment. Will we see a repeat of last year? Only time will tell!
*All maps created in eBird*