Search This Blog

Monday, December 04, 2017

Rare Finches Coming To Your Feeders This Winter! Here's Who.

White-winged Crossbill, adult male, eating hulled sunflower seeds at our feeder

White-winged Crossbills, 1st yr. male, left, adult male, right

White-winged Crossbill, adult male

White-winged Crossbill, adult male

White-winged Crossbill, 1st yr. male

According to the 2017-2018 Winter Finch Forecast compiled by Ron Pittaway this could be a good year to see rare Red and White-winged Crossbills and also other finches like Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls at your feeders if you live in the Northeast and eastern Canada. Cone crops are bumper this year in these regions, drawing the finches to these areas.

We are lucky to have had some of these birds at our feeders in NH in years past, waiting for them this year. These northern birds are rarely seen here, let alone seen at feeders. Finches like hulled sunflower and also nyger seed. White-winged Crossbills are large finches who mainly live in Canada, AK, and northern areas of the northeast quadrant of this country. In winter they can come down into the U.S. in search of food. They use their amazingly bill, which is crossed at the tip, to pry open conifer cones and extract the seeds. We were making it easy for them, as we had hulled sunflower in the feeders, no shell to remove.

It's fun to age and sex the birds at your feeder and our new field guide will help you. The top photos are of an adult male who has "Two broad well-defined white wingbars; white tips to tertials (lacking on Red Crossbill). M. head, rump and most of underparts pinkish red; back all black to mostly red; rear flanks paler and strongly to indistinctly streaked darker. F. variably faintly greenish, (sometimes yellowish) on crown, back, rump and breast: otherwise, grayish-brown upperparts and pale underparts darkly streaked with brown. 1st Yr: M. mixed brown with pinkish red or orangish yellow; f. brownish or faintly greenish." (The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America, page 749).

No comments: