irruptive species is the Purple Finch. Purple Finches breed in parts of the upper eastern quadrant of the U.S., the West Coast and across the boreal forest. The eastern subspecies is somewhat brighter that the western subspecies. In years where there is a lack of winter food in their usual range, they "irrupt" and move to other areas, such as going deeply down into the eastern U.S. There are current reports that in November they, as well the other irruptive species, Pine Siskins and Red-breasted Nuthatches, are being see as far south as Alabama.
Do not confuse the Purple Finch with the more common House Finch. Both males are red, but the male Purple Finch has much less streaking on his sides and belly than the male House Finch. Female Purple Finches have a white eyebrow that helps distinguish them from female House Finches.
As we have said, this is shaping up to be a banner year for irruptive species. Keep looking this winter and if you see some, let us know in the comments section or email us.