Un-finchy Flagstaff?
4 Jan 2012, 10:38 AM,
#1
Un-finchy Flagstaff?
I took a walk around Elden Spring this morning and was treated to warm weather and nearly snowless trails. I was struck by the fact that so far this winter, today included, I've seen very few finches of any kind. In particular, Cassin's Finches, which were incredibly abundant last winter, are basically absent this year (I had a small flock pass through on one occasion about a month ago, but otherwise have not seen them). House finch numbers are also much lower than last winter. I haven't detected a Pine Siskin yet this year. Likewise, Red Crossbills, which had a strong presence in the latter half of last winter, are absent this year. Finally, I don't think there are any Lesser Goldfinches over-wintering at Elden Spring this year, which is a change from the last couple winters. I suppose that winter is young, and things could change, but I'm struck by the finch-lessness of this winter compared to the last few years. Does anyone have any comparison from other sites in the region?

In the Elden Spring area the Cassin's finches last winter often seemed to be focusing their foraging on mountain mahogany - I wonder if this species fruited less abundantly this year?

Only birds of note today were two Downy Woodpeckers (and possibly a third) near the spring.

Jason
Reply
4 Jan 2012, 11:26 AM,
#2
 
nothing happening here on the South Rim either, Jason.

I have a couple Evening Grosbeaks making sporadic appearances at my feeder, a far cry from the big flocks the last two winters. I've seen only a couple Cassin's Finches, Red Crossbills, and Pine Siskins through the last couple months also.

Brian
Reply
4 Jan 2012, 11:49 AM,
#3
 
Jason,

I was noticing the same un-finchyness at my feeder. I was hypothesizing to myself (in an overly-caffeinated state) that there is so little snow -- with bare, exposed soil everywhere -- foraging opportunities are abundant this year. Cassins' Finch may be more dispersed than they would be compared to years with heavy snowfall and fewer foraging opportunities. The same may be true for Crossbills as well; this year seemed to bring a bumper crop of pinecones.

The occurrence of Cassin's Finch and Crossbills has been described to me (by birders more knowledge than myself about these species) as "episodic" and "eruptive." If this is true, then the lack of sightings combined with our very small sample size follow a pattern that might be considered normal? :freak:
Reply
4 Jan 2012, 1:26 PM,
#4
 
I have noticed that at my feeders in the yard, I have seen no pine siskins in the past couple of months. I haven't seen any in the field, either.

Gary
Reply
4 Jan 2012, 1:27 PM,
#5
 
Yes, it might be considered normal. Cassin's Finch is definitely episodic and eruptive, and may not be in the area for several years, then voilá they are here for the winter. Crossbills are very much the same. They go where food is most abundant and available.

Since the warm, un-January type weather there have been few House Finches at my feeder, but prior to that when it was cold and snowy there were many at several feeders.

Elaine
Reply
4 Jan 2012, 1:39 PM,
#6
 
I didn't mean to suggest that it was abnormal, just that local conditions this year seem particularly unfriendly toward finch aggregations. I wonder if the cause is poor food availability here, or just better conditions elsewhere? I'm often amazed at the seasonal variation in these winter finches - one year when I lived in western Massachusetts pine grosbeaks, which are absent there the vast majority of winters, were the most common birds around. Every crabapple tree in the small town we lived in got gradually picked bare over the course of that winter by hundreds (more?) of roving grosbeaks. It was an amazing sight!

Jason
Reply
4 Jan 2012, 5:36 PM,
#7
 
I have lots of American Goldfinches and House Finches at my feeders, and tend to get a couple of Pine Siskins every week but not sticking around. I've had two Cassins Finches this year. I went to Dr. Hallberg's dentist office the other day on Humphreys where he has niger socks hanging in the trees. I've come to the conclusion that all the Pine Siskins and Lesser Goldfinches are hanging out at his office! He's has lots of them! - Pam
Reply
4 Jan 2012, 7:43 PM,
#8
 
It is generally believed that irruptions are driven by a lack of food on the normal wintering grounds, so what you are observing it may actually be a good thing for the finches inasmuch as it portends favorable feeding opportunities for these birds in their less subsidized habitats.
Reply
5 Jan 2012, 10:06 AM,
#9
 
Thanks Roger. The spelling of "irruptive" eluded me, as my spelling skills are sometimes not-so-good. Both words have similar meanings.

Elaine
Reply
10 Jan 2012, 8:18 PM,
#10
RE: Un-finchy Flagstaff?
Hi-
We've had a ton of siskins at our feeders over the last year, and they essentially disappeared, but just in the past few weeks we've recorded a single individual, and then 4 last weekend during our feederwatch counts. I haven't seen a Cassin's finch for months, but we've had house finches at our feeder all winter.
Brian
Brian
bhealyphoto@gmail.com
Reply
19 Jan 2012, 5:23 PM,
#11
RE: Un-finchy Flagstaff?
I counted 43 Pine Siskens for Project Feeder Watch at my feeders on Dec. 13. Since then I've seen only a handful.
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Un-finchy winter jawilder 6 150 11 Jan 2019, 9:44 PM
Last Post: BrianHof
  Finchy morning apellegrini 0 561 7 Mar 2016, 9:29 AM
Last Post: apellegrini
  More Finchy Goings-On prather 16 7,872 5 May 2005, 4:16 PM
Last Post: Lazuli

Forum Jump: