Thursday, October 11, 2012

Irruptive species update

Red breasted Nuthatch

Red Crossbills
 I will take a little time this evening to update on the variety of irruptive species that have occurred so far this season.  The annual finch forecast put out by Ron Pittaway (link below) predicted the potential for several species (finches and others) to move south this season due to a poor cone crop in the north.
Several of these species have already moved south starting with Red breasted Nuthatch’s and Red Crossbills, Purple Finches and continuing now with Pine Siskins.  All four of these species have moved across a broad front in large numbers into and through the northeast.  Using eBird to illustrate to movement of these (and other species) is quite informative.  The next question is will these birds hang around the local area or continue to move further south.  There are still good numbers of Red breasted Nuthatch’s around but perhaps the largest numbers have moved through.  Red Crossbills seem to have also peaked but the birds are still around and there could be more to come.  There is a great article of the crossbills on eBird summing up the various types of Red Crossbills with the link below:

The Pine Siskins have increased dramatically in the last week or so around here and can be found on most trips around the area.  Purple Finches also seem to have increased a bit but the huge numbers are still not here yet. 
There are several other species that could have a good potential to move south this winter including White –winged Crossbill,  Pine Grosbeak (one heard at Winsor Dam a few days ago), Common Redpoll, Hoary Redpoll, Evening Grosbeak (also at Winsor Dam a couple says ago but could have been local breeder), and Bohemian Waxwing.  As mentioned in Ron Pittaway’s article all of these species have a good chance of moving south this winter.  Although his article covers Ontario the basics of the movement can be translated to this area.  Overall this season has the potential to be one of the better seasons for irruptive species in the area.  So far it has been great and could only get better as more species move down through.  We will have to wait and see what happens.
Mallards at first light, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Oct 10, 2012
 With all the rain and wind the last couple days plus having to work I have not birded much other than brief stops at Winsor Dam to check for waterfowl at first light and on my way home from work before sunset.  Nothing too unusual with a few Common Loons, a couple Black Ducks and a raft of 44 Mallards on Wednesday morning that I tried my best to turn into something more exotic in the poor morning light.  I also had an American Woodcock still giving its display flight.  This evening the only species of waterfowl present was a Black Duck.  I'm hopeful checking the area again over the next several days will result in finding some waterfowl.


  1. Larry, I just blogged about this as well for Worcester County and noticed still a lot of activity via eBird reports in your neck of the woods for many of the irruptive birds. Let's hope they stick around!