Focused on finch populations mainly in Ontario, Ron Pittaway has just recently released his most recent Winter Finch Forecast. Over the years, house finches have steadily taken over habitat once belonging to the purple finch. One study of finch behaviour found that purple finches lost out to house finches more than 95% of the times the two birds encountered each other.
This is one of the main reasons researchers like Ron Pittaway publish studies and forecasts each and every year and more importantly, why so many of us read them. As avid birders, we enjoy hearing about some of our local birds making a comeback and the likelihood of identifying a number of species over the winter months.
Ron’s annual report covers both a general forecast for the coming winter months as well as in-depth forecasts for many individual species. Here are a few of the species we should expect to see here in Ontario throughout the winter months of 2015 and 2016:
Purple Finch: Ron expects a large portion of the purple finch population to head south out of Ontario as cone and deciduous tree crops are generally in low quantities in northern Ontario.
Red Crossbill: The east should expect a fair amount of red crossbills this year as there have already been sightings in New York State, the Great Lakes area, the Adirondacks, northern New England and across some of Canada`s southern maritime provinces.
Common Redpole: Just as we experience last year, Ron believes we should see a southward movement because birch seeds are low to average across the boreal forest.
Evening Grosbeak: Quebec is reporting rising breeding numbers linked to greater food supply from increasing outbreaks of spruce budworms gives Ron confidence that we should also see a small number of these birds in Ontario, especially here in eastern Ontario throughout the winter.
To read Ron Pittaway`s full report, click here. His report addresses a number of other species including three irruptive passerines whose movements are often linked to the boreal finches.