As we creep our way into October, any avid birder can tell you that nothing excites us quite as much as Ron Pittaway’s annual Winter Finch Forecast. Publishing his findings each and every year at this time, Ron and his team take a deep and concentrated look at the finch populations, past and current trends and most importantly, food availability to the north of us.
Using this data, he is able to fairly accurately predict the number of finches we should expect to see this winter, which species are likely to head our way and how and where we should provide additional food for those that might need it more than others.
Speaking specifically to eastern Canada, this year’s forecast is predicting an irruption of sorts, one that is sure to please birders of all ages and experience levels. While some years, spotting certain species of finches could be challenging, it is looking like this year should be a breeze.
Each year, this forecast is benchmarked against cone and bird seed crops in northern Ontario and the northeast. This year’s cone production and see crops are appearing to be quite low with the exception of Newfoundland on our east coast.
Here in Ontario, we can expect plenty of winter finches descending into our area as well as many regions of southern Ontario as they scramble for reliable food sources in more southern locales.
We have already been lucky enough to spot a number of finches here in the Ottawa area including a number of Pine Siskins feeding at the window feeders at our home. Other species we can expect are a number of grosbeaks, additional siskins, plenty of blue jays and our favourite redpolls.
How to Prepare for the Irruption
The first rule of any irruption is food. Let’s not forget that these birds are heading our way in search of reliable food sources and those yards with the best offering will be delighted to the greatest number of finch species.
The holy trinity (so to speak) of the finch world when it comes to feeding is our combination of pole system, tube and/or finch feeders and our seasonal blended seed and finch blends. Not only do these systems keep squirrels out of your food during the winter months, but they also allow for multiple feeders on each system.
In the past, we have had literally hundreds of finches on any given day spread across our three individual pole systems each adorned with three or four tube feeders to ensure these birds get the seed they so desperately need.
In addition to food, we always stress the importance of water for our birds as well. During the winter, a heated bird bath goes a long way in keeping fresh water available for those in need.
If you need any help planning for this year’s irruption, do not hesitate to reach out to us in-store, online or on social media, we’d be happy to help!