Birds To Look For This Winter: Finch Forecast Breakdown

Friday, October 20, 2023

Each year, the renowned Winter Finch Forecast lets us all know which birds we can expect to see on the move throughout the coming winter months. Sadly, this summer we lost the original creator of the Finch Forecast, Ron Pittaway. Thankfully, his collaborator Tyler Hoar continues to bring us these well anticipated reports. 

There's going to be a lot of movement this year! There are several areas lacking food supply including cones in the Boreal forest, however areas such as the boreal forest closest to Lake Superior have excellent pine crop, tree seed crop, and fruiting crop. This largely determines the movement patterns of winter finches. 

There is a forecast for each species, we will give a very brief overview of what we can expect for each in Southern Ontario and what you can offer in anticipation. 

Pine Grosbeak. Photo by Kristen Martyn. 

1. Pine Grosbeaks: Due to great food availability, most Pine Grosbeaks are anticipated to stay in the eastern boreal forests, with some coming to their traditional wintering grounds in southeastern Canada. They enjoy sunflower seed, safflower seed, and shelled peanuts. 

Purple Finch. Photo by Shayna Hartley. 

2. Purple Finches: Many Purple Finches are expected to overwinter in southeastern Canada. At feeders, they enjoy sunflower seed and Finch Blend. 

Redpolls. Photo by Kristen Martyn. 

3. Common Redpolls: Redpolls are expected to fly south out of the boreal forest in moderate numbers. At feeders they enjoy hyper seed, and really enjoy tray feeders if you can offer them! Watch for them in weedy fields. 

Pine Siskins. Photo by Kristen Martyn. 

4. Pine Siskins: Significant numbers of Pine Siskins left the boreal forest in mid-September. Expect a moderate to strong southward movement - into our courters!! - this fall. These birds have a preference for smaller seeds such as nyjer and sunflower chips (Finch Blend is a favourite!), and will readily visit feeders that are stocked with fresh seed. Preferred feeder styles are finch & tube feeders, but they will happily perch on tray, hopper, or cylinder feeders as well.

Evening Grosbeaks. Photo by Kristen Martyn. 

5. Evening Grosbeaks: There is great availability of berry and seed crops in the boreal forest. However, in northwestern Ontario they may move out of the boreal forest looking for food sources further south. 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. 

Wishing you all the winter finches!! 



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