An Exciting Irruption: Evening Grosbeaks

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Unless you've been hiding from 2020 underneath a rock, you have probably noticed that Evening Grosbeak sightings in Ontario have exploded. Evening Grosbeaks are a species of Finch with thick and powerful conical bills. They are heavy-set with thick chests and short tails. They are social birds that are typically seen in flocks. Currently, they are being seen in large numbers across the region. This may even be a record year for most sightings ever recorded. The 2020 Winter Finch Forecast predicted that we would see this increase in activity southward of their typical range. The forecast came out in September and noted that these beautiful finches would be on the move this winter, with the highest early fall numbers recorded in 25 years. 

Male Evening Grosbeak. Photo by Kristen Martyn

Female Evening Grosbeak. Photo by Jessica Barry 

Now, many of you have been able to experience these beautiful birds yourself. If you haven't seen any yet, you are surely living vicariously through photos (and desperately hoping they come your way). 

So, why are they on the move this winter? 

This is what is called an "irruption" year. This happens when there is low food availability in a bird's normal range, which will drive them south in search of the foods that they typically feed on. For this species, their preferred natural foods are things seeds from pine cones, cedar and other conifer cones. 

How can you attract Evening Grosbeaks to stop at your feeders? 

Evening Grosbeaks travel in flocks, so they prefer hopper and tray-style feeders where a number of birds can feed together at the same time. However, they will ultimately feed anywhere they can perch and even enjoy eating from cylinder feeders. 

They eat a wide range of foods and enjoy black oil sunflower seed, sunflower chips, safflower seeds or cylinders and Bark Butter Bits. 

Female and Males eating together on Eco Tough 5.5 Qt Hopper Feeder 

Male Evening Grosbeak eating at a Seed Cylinder. Photo by Jessica Barry. 

We hope that each and every one of you gets to experience these beautiful birds during this record-breaking year. Their irruption southward has caused an irruption of excitement amongst bird lovers! As always, we love sharing these experiences with you. It has been a joy to see individuals from all over posting their backyard photos to our Ontario Birds by WBU Barrie and WBU Newmarket Facebook group and the collective joy these birds are bringing with them. 

Sending well wishes and hopes for Evening Grosbeaks to all of you! 



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