Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman – November 2022


Evening Grosbeak and an American goldfinch taken by Sheila Walsh at her feeder

The winter of 2022 is predicted to be an irruption year for grosbeaks, winter finches and red-breasted nuthatches. Lucky us! An irruption of birds occurs in winters when the cone crop in Maine and Canada is insufficient to feed these birds that rely on it. The north looks to have a poor cone crop this fall, and some of the irruptive species such as red-breasted nuthatches have already moved into Massachusetts. Which years we will host these beautiful irruptive species is variable. We had a big irruption year in 2004-5, when many red polls, pine siskins, and red-breasted nuthatches were reported here. In 2020, crossbills and purple finches were particularly prevalent here. Expect to see evening grosbeaks, crossbills, purple finches and red-breasted nuthatches, and perhaps red polls this winter at your feeder. All of these birds love black oil sunflower seeds. To attract the largest, the grosbeaks, offer black oil sunflower on large platform feeders. Red-breasted nuthatches, smaller than their white-breasted cousins, also come to suet feeders. They have prominent black and white striping on the head, and rusty red bellies. Their nasal “ank ank” call is similar to the white-breasted, but somewhat quieter. Have your binoculars and bird guides close by when you watch the birds at your feeder. We’d love to hear about your discoveries.

Many thanks to our flora and fauna reporters for this month. Please send reports by December 31 to be included in next month’s column. You can write me at 7A Old Colony Drive, call me at 692-3907, or e-mail me at mariancharman@gmail.com.


November Reports

We, and apparently most other people, have taken down our feeders, so not many reports this month. Hopefully, December will bring snow, the bears will go to sleep, and we can put up our feeders again!

Marian/Bill Harman, Old Colony Drive. November 28, a walk to the meadow: 50 degrees with a cold wind. Heard and saw in the forest, crows, jays, chickadees, titmice, hairy woodpecker, Carolina wren. A flock of bluebirds (about 20), and juncos (about 10) feeding on the ground in the meadow. An out-of-season red-shouldered hawk repeatedly calling and a flicker in the wet woods. Around home, lots of juncos, chickadees, titmice, Carolina wren, blue jays, crows, occasional raven calling. Its interesting how the meadow birds (bluebirds) really do prefer the meadow habitat, and don’t come into the woods very often. Seeing and hearing red-breasted nuthatches, alongside their white-breasted cousins, in the woods. I’m trying to learn the differences in their calls.