2012-13 Winter Finch Report
by Nate Swick
Rob Pittaway, Ontario native and winter finch guru, has recent released his irruptive finch report for the coming winter season. Bottom line is that the drought across much of the continent had a real effect on cone and ash crops in the far north so it could be a good year for many of the exciting winter wanderers in southern Canada and the northern tier of the United States.
Pittaway's forecast can be found in two places, in full both at eBird and at 10,000 Birds. The first has maps showing where the species in question have already shown up this fall while at the second you can follow along in the comments to see what everyone is seeing.
Pittaway's forcast is generally seen to predict winter movement of birds, but already this year two irruptive species have been making major moves south. The eBird team reports as follows:
First, please read the Red Crossbill section and click the map link. This species is on the move throughout the US, with Red Crossbills reaching the Central California Coast, Kansas, Maryland, and New England. Many of these are proving to be Type 3 (from California to New England!), suggesting that their particular ecological niche--primarily Western Hemlock forest in the Pacific Northwest--is undergoing very hard times this year. As always with Red Crossbills, audio-recording their calls is invaluable. The below section gives instructions on reporting Red Crossbill sounds. Look for Matt Young's guide to Red Crossbill types to come out on eBird next week and please do report any Red crossbills that you can audio record to the specific type on eBird. Matt Young (may6 AT cornell.edu) is even willing to help identify any recordings you are able to get, even cell phone recordings! Here's a Red Crossbill (Type 3) map from eBird.
Second, Red-breasted Nuthatches are all over right now and are on the move in all provinces and all 48 states. Please make sure to report them to eBird too so we can to continue to document this invasion.
Also noted is the expected incursion of Boreal Owls as well, so don't just keep your eyes on the feeders!
The one downside of this forecast is the fact that it's limited to the eastern part of the continent, and specifically Ontario though it is applicable to much of the northeast US as well. If anyone out there is aware of any similar forecast that takes into account the western part of the continent, do let us know in the comments.