Nov 21
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Red-breasted Nuthatch

Pine Siskin (Left), American Goldfinch (Right). Photo courtesy of Nancy Castillo.

Purple Finch, male

The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest single travel day of the year, for people; but, what about birds? This year there are many out of town birds that are enjoying being backyard guests.

It’s already been an exciting season of new birds at feeders and more backyards are being visited every week. Check out the information below on the more irregular guests showing up at feeders.

Red-breasted Nuthatch (eBird location map)
With southward movement that began in mid-summer, they are being seen in all provinces and lower 48 states. Watch for them at feeders. They prefer seed blends with sunflower, peanuts and tree nuts and they like suet products.

Pine Siskin (eBird location map)
These opportunistic nomads are still moving into many areas. Watch for them at feeders; especially visiting with goldfinches. They prefer Nyjer and sunflower chips. Click here for identification clues to quickly determine if there are any Pine Siskin on your feeders.

Purple Finch (eBird location map)
Expect strong southward movement this year. Be aware that their numbers have been declining in recent decades. Watch for them at feeders. They prefer Nyjer and sunflower. Click here for identification clues to quickly determine which finches are on your feeders: House Finch, Purple Finch or Cassin’s Finch.

What out of town guest birds are entertaining you?

Nov 19
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I previously wrote about Red-breasted Nuthatches “irrupting” out of the North in the post, The Rusty Upside Down Bird. Since then, more have moved southward and they may be in your area. The big question is, “How do I get them to feeders?”

Below is an FAQ on Red-breasted Nuthatches.

Why are they moving southward?
There is a shortage of food to sustain them for the winter in the northern boreal forests this year. They are moving into areas to find a sustainable winter food source.

Where can I find them?
They prefer wooded areas, including neighborhoods. They will winter in an area ranging in size from two to eleven football fields. Check out an interactive map from to see where they have been spotted recently.

How can I entice them to feeders?
They prefer peanuts, sunflower seeds and tree nuts. They also really like suet products like Naturally Nuts and Bark Butter® Bits.

How long will they stay?
With reliable food sources, they are likely to stay all winter.

Do you have Red-breasted Nuthatches at your feeders? What are they eating?

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Dec 08
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It seems to be a snowy beginning to December. I am not talking about snow flakes or Frosty the Snowman. I am talking about the big, beautiful and very white Snowy Owl.

Saturday morning found me doing the normal, relaxed Saturday routine. However, by Noon, my girls and I were out the door. We were chasing down a Snowy Owl that was only a half-hour drive away. What an opportunity!

We packed up the birding gear and headed to the local municipal airport. We arrived to a small group of 10 people all looking in the same direction. The owl was atop one of the hangers with only the shoulder and head being visible. Since we forgot the camera, I ended up using my iPhone to snap a picture through the spotting scope. What a cool sight!

Bird listservs are buzzing with Snowy Owl sightings throughout the northern half of the United States. Right now, Snowies are as far south as Kansas. This is lower than their usual wintering range of lower Canada; which means it is an irruption year for Snowy Owls!

Snowy Owls breed in the arctic. It seems there were a lot of young born this year and the food supply, primarily lemmings, is not sufficient. This combination may be causing the Southward irruption for the Snowies to find food. Whatever the reason, it is an opportunity for many to see a unique bird.

Check out link for recent Snowy Owl sightings.

Have you seen a Snowy Owl or other interesting birds recently?

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