The Winter Finch Forecast is out. Based on the abundance of winter food availability in Canada, the forecast predicts the movement of some finches and other birds during winter. Some of these birds are visitors to North Dakota bird feeders, such as purple finches, redpolls, pine siskins, crossbills, pine grosbeaks, and evening grosbeaks.
Don’t expect to see big numbers of pine grosbeaks this winter. The fruit crop of mountain ash was good across much of the northern coniferous forest this year, so they will probably stay put. The pine siskins will also likely stay up north due to excellent spruce seed production in western Canada.
Both red and white-wing crossbills have been reported in North Dakota already, but an irruption does not look likely. But purple finches are expected to head southward this winter. There have been several at our feeders already, they are having a grand old time feeding on sunflower seeds.
There was little data on common and hairy redpolls. However, common redpolls have already been documented in the state this winter, so perhaps we will have at least a few coming to the state in search of food this winter.
This could be a year to see evening grosbeaks! They are increasing in eastern Canada and may have to move south in search of fruits of maple and ash. They have been documented in northern Minnesota already. If you are not familiar with this bird, some birders describe them as goldfinches on steroids! Picture a musclebound goldfinch about the size of a blackbird wearing a University of Michigan football helmet.
Red-breasted nuthatches have already been reported as far south as Alabama and Oklahoma, and we have had a couple visiting our suet cakes. They are smaller than the white-breasted nuthatch.
So, we should have some welcome visitors from the north, eh! If you are interested in attracting these species to your yard this winter put out some suet, a tube feeder and platform feeder filled with sunflower seeds, and a tube feeder full of thistle seeds. That should do the trick. Then sit back and enjoy the company. It’s great entertainment!