Winter Bird Predictions

About a month ago we were pontificating the possibilities of an irruption of winter finches. We had come up with a general feeling like this year would be great for birds like grosbeaks, redpolls, crossbills, and more. Then recently on the Illinois Birder’s Forum we read a wonderful post along the same lines as our predictions.

Cedar Waxwing – will it be a big year for his cousin the Bohemian?
Cedar Waxwing

Pine Grosbeak
This grosbeak will irrupt south of the breeding range because crops on native mountain-ashes (rowan berries) are generally poor in northeastern Ontario and across the boreal forest.

Common and Hoary Redpolls
There will be a big flight of redpolls into southern Ontario and bordering United States. Seed crops on white birch, yellow birch and alder are very poor in most of Ontario. Expect redpolls at bird feeders this winter.

Pine Siskin
Large southward irruptions occur when cone crop failures span much of Canada.

Evening Grosbeak
This grosbeak will irrupt south of the boreal forest this fall because tree seed crops are generally very poor in northeastern Ontario and western Quebec.

Red-breasted Nuthatch
They have been moving south since mid-June presumably because of the poor cone crop in central Canada. Almost all Red-breasted Nuthatches will depart Ontario’s boreal forest by late fall…

Bohemian Waxwing
The poor crop of native mountain-ash (rowan berries) in much of northern Ontario will cause Bohemians Waxwings to wander south and east this winter. Watch for them eating buckthorn berries and crabapples…

Gray Jay and Boreal Chickadee
They are moving in northeastern Quebec east of Tadoussac along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. These movements could extend to southern Ontario and northeastern states.

Saw-whet Owl
If red-backed vole numbers decline as they often do in association with deer mice, there will be a strong flight of Northern Saw-whet Owls this fall.

Since we live in northern Illinois, these birds are often hard to come by in our area so it will be interesting to see how true the predictions are. There has been a lot of odd bird activity recently, including a Clark’s Nutcracker, so we will be on the lookout, especially during our Christmas Bird Counts!

3 thoughts on “Winter Bird Predictions

  1. Beautiful shot! I hope I see some cedar waxwings here in Maryland this year. I don’t think I saw any last year in this state, but did see a few in Wisconsin.

  2. I forget that people don’t get to see these birds on a more regular basis, at least a few winter finches are almost always present in Upstate New York every winter (a few even breed), but after watching a big flock of Bohemian Waxwing’s the other day demolish a small berry bush, it won’t take them long to wander to the south. Pine Grosbeak as well. Don’t think Siskins or Crossbills are really moving, but the berry birds area, including Pine Grosbeak.

  3. We have had a small flock of nuthatches visit our yard for a couple of weeks now…three red-breasted nuthatches and two white-breasted. I had never seen the red-breasted nuthatch before, so that was very exciting for us!

    The juncos are also early. At least earlier than last year.

    I am excited and hopeful that more interesting species are on their way!

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