The Finch Invasion Continues

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

I didn’t get much birding in this past weekend as I had quite a few errands to run, so I spent much of my free time watching the birds in the backyard. The winter finch invasion has continued for the second week in a row, and it was a real treat hearing all the Pine Siskins in the neighbourhood during the week and watching them in the backyard this weekend. Purple Finches are moving through as well, for I found three of them in the park three days in a row last week, and had at least a male and female in the yard behind mine on Thursday and Saturday. The neighbours in the house in the yard behind mine have been keeping their feeder stocked, so there were plenty of finches around on the weekend. Even though it was cold all weekend – it barely reach 0°C on Saturday and 3°C yesterday – the birds spent a lot of time in the trees and shrubs in neighbouring yards, as well as at the feeder in my yard and in the yard behind mine.

Four finch species showed up altogether: American Goldfinch, Purple Finch, Common Redpoll, and Pine Siskin, although the Pine Siskins were by far the most numerous. I saw my first Purple Finch on April 3rd; a male was visiting the feeder in the yard behind mine. Since then I’ve seen a pair on Thursday, April 7th and a pair on Saturday. The male was singing in the neighbour’s pine tree on Saturday:

Purple Finch 2

Purple Finch

The Common Redpolls showed up on Thursday; a flock of about 10 landed in a neighbour’s tree before flying over my yard. They didn’t stay to feed. On Saturday a pair joined the flock of siskins feeding in my neighbour’s yard, and on Sunday I finally found four of them beneath my own feeder. A few goldfinches come and go as well; the males are starting to turn bright yellow. As usual, however, it is the Pine Siskins that continue to dominate the scene, with a flock of between 10 and 20 birds visiting the backyard all weekend. Pine Siskins are noisy birds, continually twittering as they feed and perch in the trees. I couldn’t resist taking more photos when they came to visit my feeder:

Pine Siskin 2

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin 2

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin 2

Pine Siskin

 Pine Siskin 2

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin 2

Pine Siskin

This Pine Siskin was sitting in the lilac shrub in the neighbour’s yard:

Pine Siskin 2

Pine Siskin

The three juncos are still around, and on April 8th I was happy to see an American Tree Sparrow in my neighbour’s lilac tree next door! I had seen one there on March 30th as well, and I think this fellow must be sticking around as I’ve seen him out back on April 10th, 11th and 12th as well. He was actually singing in a cedar tree yesterday, and when I looked out the back window before heading out to work, he was scrounging beneath my feeder.

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Chickadees, Mourning Doves, starlings, Blue Jays, Song Sparrows and Northern Cardinals also visit my yard frequently. A single Bohemian Waxwing flew in and perched in the tree outside my computer room for about 15 minutes on April 5th, and for the past two days I’ve seen a flock of about 40 of them in the subdivision – yesterday they were in a tree right outside my house as I was leaving for work.

On Saturday I added a new bird to my yard list when I noticed an unfamiliar shape perched on top of a neighbour’s HD antenna. Rock Pigeons sometimes perch there, but this had the shape of a falcon. I got my binoculars, expecting to see the Merlin, and was completely floored when I identified it as an American Kestrel instead! I have never seen a kestrel in the neighbourhood, with good reason – they are open country birds, more likely to be found in agricultural areas and pastures. I grabbed my camera, ran out the back door, and managed two photos before it realized it was lost and flew off.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

It’s been wonderful to see the backyard come to life with so many different birds around this spring. I’ve been documenting all the winter finches that visit in eBird to record how long this irruption lasts, but as I will be away on holiday next week I expect that they and the juncos and American Tree Sparrows will be gone by the time I return. Hopefully by then the neighbourhood Chipping Sparrows will have returned!

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