Winter Irruption

A “winter irruption” of Finches occur every year — somewhere. And that is the habit of Finches, to follow the food, where ever it is the most plentiful. Finches are primarily seed eaters.

Purple Finch

Purple Finch

 So winter here in northern Minnesota is their time to shine. The colorful finches will come into bird feeders and gorge themselves on sunflower seeds. This year has been exceptional in Crane Lake for the vibrantly painted Purple Finch (or as I prefer to call them, Crimson Finch). They certainly have irrupted here for there are flocks of up to 100 individuals visiting the feeders. They are joined by Pine Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins and the occassional Goldfinch.

Last Christmas I received a cool ECOlogical Calendar for 2011. It has lots of tidbits of interesting Phenological information for each week of the year. It’s written by Chris Hardman. The tag line reads: “A Calendar tracking the year’s natural cycles, solstice to equinox to solstice to equinox to solstice”

For this week, the first week of February, he talks about “WinterIrruption”. “Some birds make an appearance one winter and are nowhere to be found the next. Blue jays, rose-colored starlings, and several finch species are examples of these irruptive birds.

Now, there’s a problem. We don’t have a bird called a Rose-colored Starling here in North America. We do have Starlings and they are those pesky birds that are “exotics”, brought over from Europe many years ago. So I had to google Rose-colored Starling.  Turns out to be a very pretty bird, as described by its name.

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