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VTBIRD  September 2008

VTBIRD September 2008

Subject:

Fwd: [Ontbirds]Winter Finch Forecast 2008-2009

From:

Eve Ticknor <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Vermont Birds <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 22:49:27 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (203 lines)

> From: Jean Iron <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: September 18, 2008 12:52:11 PM EDT (CA)
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: [Ontbirds]Winter Finch Forecast 2008-2009
>
> GENERAL FORECAST
> This winter's theme is where will crossbills go and will they  
> irrupt south? Both species wandered widely this summer. Cone crops  
> are poor in the Atlantic Provinces and fair to moderate in Western  
> Canada. In Ontario, spruce crops are fair to good west and east of  
> Lake Superior and in central Ontario such as Algonquin Park, but  
> cone abundance diminishes rapidly northwards into the boreal  
> forest. White pine (Ontario's provincial tree) has heavy cone crops  
> in most areas. The hemlock crop is poor in central Ontario. The  
> white birch crop is fair to good west and east of Lake Superior to  
> Lake Ontario, but poor in the boreal forest. The mountain-ash  
> (rowan berry) crop is excellent in Ontario and Western Canada, but  
> poor in the Atlantic Provinces. Individual finch forecasts below  
> apply mainly to Ontario, but adjacent provinces and states may find  
> the forecast of interest. I also comment on three irruptive  
> passerines and two boreal forest raptors.
>
> INDIVIDUAL FINCH FORECASTS
> Pine Grosbeak: A mountain-ash berry specialist in winter, Pine  
> Grosbeaks will stay north of most birders this winter because  
> mountain-ash berries are abundant in northern Ontario. A few  
> normally get south to Algonquin Park, but they are unlikely farther  
> south.
>
> Purple Finch: This finch stays in the north only when most tree  
> species have heavy seed crops. This fall most Purple Finches will  
> migrate south out of the province because overall tree seed crops  
> are too low. A very few may winter in southern Ontario.
>
> Red Crossbill: This crossbill comprises nine ecotypes in North  
> America; each has cone(s) preferences related to bill size and  
> shape. The Types are difficult to identify in the field. Types 2  
> and 3 and probably 4 occur in Ontario. The white pine Type 2 is  
> apparently the most frequently encountered Red Crossbill in the  
> province (Simard 2007 in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario). Since  
> white pine has abundant crops in most areas, expect Type 2s to be  
> widespread in small numbers. Hemlock Type 3 (subspecies sitkensis  
> of AOU Check-list 1957) prefers the small cones of hemlock and  
> white spruce when bumper in Ontario. Type 3s should be absent from  
> the province this winter because the hemlock crop is poor and the  
> white spruce crop is average. Other Types are possible this winter  
> given the bumper white pine cone crop and good crop on red pine.  
> The Red Crossbill complex very much needs further study.
>
> White-winged Crossbill: This crossbill wandered widely this past  
> summer searching for extensive spruce cone crops. Reports came from  
> Alaska, Yukon, Hudson Bay Lowlands, Ontario, Quebec and many  
> northern states such as Michigan and New York. Most kept moving but  
> some stopped and their singing suggested nesting but spruce cone  
> crops are generally not large enough in most areas to support major  
> nestings. The White-winged Crossbill specializes on the small soft  
> cones of black and white spruces and hemlock when bumper in  
> Ontario. This winter they should be widespread in small numbers in  
> traditional areas such as Algonquin Park. However, spruce cone  
> crops are generally low in most of Canada and as seed supplies are  
> exhausted this fall and winter so a moderate southward irruption is  
> probable, perhaps extending south into the central United States.  
> Watch for them on ornamental spruces and European larch.
>
> Common and Hoary Redpolls: The Common Redpoll is a white birch seed  
> specialist in the boreal forest in winter. White birch crops are  
> poor in the northern two-thirds of the boreal forest, but seed  
> abundance increases southward. In central Ontario, such as  
> Algonquin Park, crops on white and yellow birches range from fair  
> to good. It is uncertain whether the birch crop is large enough to  
> stop the southward movement in central Ontario about latitude 45  
> degrees. Some redpolls, including a few Hoarys, may get south to  
> Lake Ontario if birch seed supplies run low.
>
> Pine Siskin: A conifer seed specialist in winter, most siskins  
> should leave the province this fall because the spruce cone crop is  
> poor in the boreal forest. It is uncertain whether the huge white  
> pine seed crop will keep some siskins in central and northern  
> Ontario this winter.
>
> Evening Grosbeak: A conifer and hardwood seed generalist in winter,  
> Evening Grosbeaks should make a small southward movement this  
> winter because food supplies are probably sufficient in the north.  
> Older birders remember the 1970s when the Evening Grosbeak was a  
> common feeder bird. Their memory is based on the greatly inflated  
> numbers 30 years ago in Eastern Canada due to huge outbreaks of  
> spruce budworm. The last Algonquin Christmas Bird Count to have  
> high numbers of Evening Grosbeaks was in 1984 with 1474  
> individuals, which was the North American CBC record that year. A  
> significant decline in grosbeak numbers began in the mid-1980s  
> because the size of annual budworm outbreaks decreased. Ontario's  
> breeding population is currently probably stable, subject to  
> periodic fluctuations in spruce budworm (Hoar 2007 in Atlas of  
> Breeding Birds of Ontario).
>
> THREE IRRUPTIVE PASSERINES
> Red-breasted Nuthatch: Movements of this nuthatch are linked to  
> cone crop abundance, particularly spruce, white pine and balsam fir  
> in Ontario. Good numbers of Red-breasted Nuthatches should winter  
> in Ontario this year feeding on the bumper white pine seed crop and  
> good spruce/fir crops in many areas such as Algonquin Park.
>
> Bohemian Waxwing: Like the Pine Grosbeak, this waxwing is a  
> mountain-ash berry specialist in winter. Mountain-ash crops are  
> excellent across northern Ontario (bumper around Lake Superior) so  
> very few Bohemians will wander out of the boreal forest this  
> winter. Some may get south into traditional wintering areas of  
> central Ontario such as Orillia, Peterborough and Ottawa where  
> European mountain-ash berries are in good supply.
>
> Blue Jay: Good numbers of jays will winter in central Ontario  
> because the red oak acorn crop is good and beechnut crop is fair in  
> central Ontario. Many other fruits and berries are abundant.  
> Therefore this fall's flight should be average or smaller along the  
> shorelines of Lakes Ontario and Erie.
>
> BOREAL RAPTORS
> Northern Goshawk: A small flight is possible this fall because high  
> snowshoe hare populations have declined in much of northern  
> Ontario. However, grouse numbers (Ruffed, Spruce, Sharp-tailed) are  
> generally good so they may buffer the decline in hares.
>
> Boreal Owl: Small mammal populations have crashed across northern  
> and central Ontario. In Quebec, Pascal Cote of Observatoire  
> d'oiseaux de Tadoussac expects a flight of Boreal Owls this fall  
> and winter following their 4 year cycle linked to red-backed voles.  
> Southern Ontario may get Boreal Owls and other northern forest owls  
> this winter.
>
> WHERE TO SEE FINCHES: A winter trip to Algonquin Park is a birding  
> adventure. The park is a mix of boreal and hardwood habitats only a  
> three hour drive north of Toronto. Kilometre distances are marked  
> from the west entrance. Watch carefully for crossbills and other  
> finches in early morning eating road salt and sand. Two excellent  
> birding spots are the Spruce Bog Trail at km 42.5 and the gate area  
> on the Opeongo Road about 4 km north from km 46 on the highway.  
> Watch and listen for finches, Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Spruce  
> Grouse and Black-backed Woodpecker. The Visitor Centre and  
> restaurant at km 43 are open only on weekends in winter. An  
> observation deck overlooks a spectacular bog and black spruce  
> forest. The feeders attract Evening Grosbeak, Pine Grosbeak, Common  
> Redpoll and other finches depending on the winter. Gray Jays  
> frequent the suet feeder and sometimes a pine marten or fisher goes  
> to the suet. Eastern Canadian Wolves (Canis lycaon) are seen  
> occasionally from the observation deck feeding on road-killed moose  
> put out by park staff. Arrangements can be made to view feeders on  
> weekdays. For information call the Visitor Centre at 613-637-2828.
>
> ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: I thank staff of the Ontario Ministry of Natural  
> Resources (OMNR) and birders whose reports allow me to make annual  
> forecasts: Dennis Barry (Durham Region), Ken Corston (OMNR  
> Moosonee), Pascal Cote (Tadoussac, Quebec), Shirley Davidson (OMNR  
> Minden), Bruce Di Labio (Ottawa to Moosonee), Carrolle Eady  
> (Dryden), Cameron Eckert (Yukon), Bruce Falls (Brodie Club,  
> Toronto), Brian Fox (OMNR), Marcel Gahbauer (Alberta), Michel  
> Gosselin (Canadian Museum of Nature), Skye Haas (Michigan), Charity  
> Hendry (Ontario Tree Seed Plant), Leo Heyens (OMNR Kenora), Tyler  
> Hoar (Laurentians and Northeastern Quebec), Peter Hynard  
> (Haliburton County), Jean Iron (Northeastern Ontario/James Bay),  
> Christine Kerrigan and Peter Nevin (Parry Sound District), Richard  
> Pope (Lake Superior), Bruce Mactavish (Newfoundland), Erwin  
> Meissner (West Sudbury District), Scott McPherson (OMNR), Brian  
> Naylor (OMNR North Bay), Larry Neily (Ottawa), Stephen O'Donnell  
> (Parry Sound District), Fred Pinto (OMNR), Betsy Potter (Wilson,  
> New York), Gord Ross (OMNR Moosonee), Rick Salmon (OMNR Nipigon),  
> Don Sutherland (OMNR), Eve Ticknor (Ottawa), Ron Tozer (Algonquin  
> Park), Declan Troy (Alaska), Mike Turner (OMNR Minden), Stan  
> Vasiliauskas (OMNR), Mike Walsh (OMNR Muskoka/Parry Sound), Ben  
> Walters (Northeastern Ontario), Alan Wormington (Point Pelee), Matt  
> Young whose posts on New York State listservs were informative, and  
> Kirk Zufelt (Sault Ste Marie). I thank Ron Tozer for ongoing  
> discussions on winter finches and Jean Iron for proofing the forecast.
>
> PREVIOUS FINCH FORECASTS archived at Larry Neily's website.
> http://www.neilyworld.com/pittaway-old.htm
>
> The recently published ATLAS OF BREEDING BIRDS OF ONTARIO 2007 has  
> detailed peer-reviewed information and maps on boreal winter  
> finches. I highly recommend it.
> http://www.birdsontario.org/atlas/index.jsp
>
> Ron Pittaway
> Minden and Toronto ON
> 18 September 2008
>
> _______________________________________________
> ONTBIRDS is presented by the Ontario Field Ornithologists - the  
> provincial birding organization.
> Send bird reports to ONTBIRDS mailing list [log in to unmask]
> For instructions to join or leave ONTBIRDS visit http://www.ofo.ca/ 
> information/ontbirdssetup.php
> ONTBIRDS Guidelines may be viewed at http://www.ofo.ca/information/ 
> ontbirdsguide.php
>

Eve Ticknor
Coordinator OFNC Falcon Watch
38-9 Gillespie Cres
Ottawa, Ontario  K1V 9T5
613-859-9545

"All nature is but art, unknown to thee"

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