Nov 7, 2018 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, December 2018

Finch Invasion! Put Out the Welcome Mat

Pine siskins visit a backyard thistle seed feeder. Photo by Cephas / Wikimedia.
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This winter is going to be an interesting one at bird feeding stations in the eastern half of North America: The famous Finch Forecast from Ron Pittaway in Canada is calling for a southward movement of northern finches. According to various reports, the natural crop of seeds and fruits from birch, alder, spruce, fir, pine, and mountain ash trees is below normal amounts across most of eastern Canada, which will force grosbeaks, siskins, redpolls, crossbills, and purple finches to move south in search of food. Other species are forecast to move south in large numbers, too, including blue jays, Bohemian waxwings, and red-breasted nuthatches.

This could be a winter of amazing action at the feeders, if the forecast proves prescient. And that means it's a good idea to review your feeders to see if any need to be repaired or replaced. Certainly it's a good idea to give them a thorough cleaning. And it's time to stock up on the kinds of food these winter finches relish: thistle/Nyjer, black-oil sunflower seed, sunflower hearts, and peanut bits. Not all forecasts are accurate, however, so don't spend the kids' college money on a thousand new thistle feeders.

If you're looking for solid feeding advice, visit watchingbackyardbirds.com and do a search for "bird feeding." You'll find lots of helpful information to get the most out of your feeding station this winter.

Happy backyard bird watching and feeding!



About Bill Thompson, III

Bill Thompson, III, was the team captain for Watching Backyard Birds from its inception 23 years ago through his death on March 25, 2019. So much of what he wrote is timeless and remains informative, helpful, and inspiring.

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    by Frank Barch, Sat, 02 Jan 2021
  • I have the same situation. The feeder is attached to the middle of a large picture window that goes ceiling to floor w/ no ledge or sill for animals to climb or balance. Yet every morning all the sunflower seeds have been cracked open and hulls left. Any ideas what it is?
    by Liza Fox, Sun, 15 Nov 2020
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    by Ella Spencer Connolly, Thu, 27 Aug 2020
  • I found where he lives, then I keep him up all day by singing at full volume! Hah, that'll show the little sucker!
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