We have discussed the amazing number of Pine Siskins visiting the Garden State this season. Now they have been joined by other eruptive finch species: Common Redpoll, Red and White-winged Crossbills, and Evening Grosbeak with the last the most surprising.
These finches have descended upon us from their home in the boreal forest as a result of inadequate food supplies there requiring them to move south for sustenance. All of the above named finches have had eruptive years in NJ in recent years except Evening Grosbeak which has been basically absent with only a few reports in the last 15 years. Evening Grosbeaks are in a perilous population decline across their northern breeding range, with there numbers down dramatically.
Small numbers of Evening Grosbeaks have been reported across the state in recent weeks. Nothing like the old days with flocks of 50 or more visiting NJ feeders. A Common Redpoll appeared in Hazlet this morning. There were also a couple of other NJ reports in the last week or two. Over 300 White-winged and 50 Red Crossbills were noted over Cape May last weekend.
Redpolls and Evening Grosbeaks will visit your bird feeders, but look to conifers with lots of cones for the crossbills. This could be a very exciting winter season for birders. Good luck in your quest to find these northern denizens.
Common Redpoll: Image from NJ Audubon Collection
Red Crossbill: Image by Bill Dalton
White-winged Crossbill: Image from NJ Audubon Collection
Evening Grosbeak: Image by Chris Davidson