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Keep an eye out for purple finches this winter

A male purple finch by John Ennis
A male purple finch by John Ennis John Ennis

North American birders got some anticipated news this week. The annual Winter Finch Forecast for 2015-2016 came out. The forecast predicts which of the northern finch species will move east, west or south this winter, and which ones won’t.

It appears purple finches may come south in small to moderate numbers, while other species such as pine siskins will stay put. That will be a relief to those of you who hosted hordes of siskins in recent winters and had to dole out extra seed money to keep them happy.

The winter finch report is based on the productivity of the evergreen cone crops in the border states and Canada. It is usually pretty accurate. We may not know exactly how accurate until after the first of the year, but I’m pretty sure Southeastern birders will not be looking for redpolls, crossbills and evening grosbeaks this winter. Read the Winter Finch Forecast for yourself at www.jeaniron.ca/2015/forecast15.htm.

A new bird on my list

It is a rare event when I get to add a bird to my North Carolina State List anymore, and even rarer when I add a bird to my Life List without some extensive travel.

I was able to accomplish adding a species to both lists last weekend when I made a run to Winston-Salem to check off the buff-bellied hummingbird I told you about last week. The bird had been seen at two feeders at houses across the street from each other. When I arrived the bird was sitting on a front yard feeder taking a leisurely drink. No waiting. That North Carolina species No. 411 is one accommodating and cooperative bird!

It is a nice adult male, which always makes identifications easy in hummingbirds. Check out some photos of the females of a few species and you will soon find many of them look pretty similar. I don’t know how many birders have made the trip to see the bird, but it is not unusual for over 100 folks to chase such a rarity. All have been successful as far as I know. I’m glad I was one of them. I feel fortunate the little guy has hung around for some weeks. Eventually it will depart when a strong cold front finally pushes through.

Taylor Piephoff is a naturalist with an interest in the birds and wildlife of the southern Piedmont: PiephoffT@aol.com. Check out his blog at piedmontbirding.blogspot.com