Nov 7, 2018 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, December 2018

Finch Invasion! Put Out the Welcome Mat

Pine siskins visit a backyard thistle seed feeder. Photo by Cephas / Wikimedia.
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This winter is going to be an interesting one at bird feeding stations in the eastern half of North America: The famous Finch Forecast from Ron Pittaway in Canada is calling for a southward movement of northern finches. According to various reports, the natural crop of seeds and fruits from birch, alder, spruce, fir, pine, and mountain ash trees is below normal amounts across most of eastern Canada, which will force grosbeaks, siskins, redpolls, crossbills, and purple finches to move south in search of food. Other species are forecast to move south in large numbers, too, including blue jays, Bohemian waxwings, and red-breasted nuthatches.

This could be a winter of amazing action at the feeders, if the forecast proves prescient. And that means it's a good idea to review your feeders to see if any need to be repaired or replaced. Certainly it's a good idea to give them a thorough cleaning. And it's time to stock up on the kinds of food these winter finches relish: thistle/Nyjer, black-oil sunflower seed, sunflower hearts, and peanut bits. Not all forecasts are accurate, however, so don't spend the kids' college money on a thousand new thistle feeders.

If you're looking for solid feeding advice, visit watchingbackyardbirds.com and do a search for "bird feeding." You'll find lots of helpful information to get the most out of your feeding station this winter.

Happy backyard bird watching and feeding!



About Bill Thompson, III

Bill Thompson, III, was the team captain for Watching Backyard Birds from its inception 23 years ago through his death on March 25, 2019. So much of what he wrote is timeless and remains informative, helpful, and inspiring.

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  • New to birding...newbie question. We spotted what we thought was a Sapsucker at our patio feeders in December. The folks at our birding supply store told us that Sapsuckers are only here in Summer months and what we saw was a Flicker. I thought I new what a Flicker was and this did not look like a Flicker. It was thinner and more smooth looking but did have the Woodpecker Bill.
    by Edmund Steinman, Wed, 08 Jan 2020
  • We just signed up and get your magazine via email. Will we be receiving a printed copy?Ed [email protected]
    by Edmund Steinman, Wed, 08 Jan 2020
  • Chickadees are adorable and intelligent. Chickadees have brains that are the most like human brains. Chickadees are personable, lively, and have their own language. Chickadees form lasting pair bonds; and are very good parents. Love.
    by Merl Elton, Tue, 24 Dec 2019
  • I'm still worried about my backyard birds even though myth #3 says they won't starve if I stop feeding in the middle of winter. I'm concerned because I'm moving in a couple of weeks to a new house and the winter's in northern Ohio get pretty challenging. Should I start backing off slowly on there food or just stop when we move?
    by Vince Bove, Sat, 14 Dec 2019
  • Birds make our world a wonderful and beautiful place to live.
    by Mac Eco, Mon, 09 Dec 2019