A Big Winter for Finches?

by Carl Strang

Last week at St. James Farm Forest Preserve I saw a huge flock of pine siskins, quick eyeball estimate count 130.

They were drawn to the preserve’s heavy production of conifer seeds.

They were drawn to the preserve’s heavy production of conifer seeds.

Here one processes a seed it drew from a cone scale.

Here one processes a seed it drew from a cone scale.

A flashing wing reveals some yellow, a reminder that these are close relatives of our resident American goldfinches.

A flashing wing reveals some yellow, a reminder that these are close relatives of our resident American goldfinches.

In some winters, siskins are few to none. Is this early abundance a sign that other northern finches might visit us in good numbers? Though not finches, red-breasted nuthatches are another northern forest bird that populated St. James Farm’s conifer plantings in October.

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