Follow-up post 3 February 2001 on Ontbirds
This report summarizes
the winter finch sightings this past week in Haliburton County along
Highway 35 between Minden and Dorset about 200 km northeast of
Toronto. Winter finches are more numerous the closer you are to
Algonquin Park. The snow is deep so walking in the forest is almost
impossible without snowshoes. Most birds can be seen from roadsides
and around feeders. There are feeders at the Frost Centre along
Highway 35 about 40 km north of Minden or 12 km south of Dorset.
Squeaking works well on winter finches. Squeak as loudly as you can
if you see or hear a flock flying over; they will often turn around
and perch in a nearby tree. Pine Grosbeak: I have not seen any so
far this winter in Haliburton County. There are a few along Highway
60 in Algonquin Park.
Purple Finch: A few are at feeders.
More may drift southwards as natural foods (tree seeds) diminish.
Some years Purple Finches appear suddenly in mid-February and March
at feeders in southern Ontario as tree seeds farther north are
Red Crossbill: None lately.
White-winged Crossbill: Some are singing (and probably nesting) in
hemlock stands and spruce woods.
Common Redpoll: Not a redpoll year
in central Ontario. A few may drift south later in February, but
most appear to have stayed much farther north in the boreal forest,
suggesting good birch and alder seed crops are holding them there.
Pine Siskin: A few have appeared
lately at the Frost Centre feeders. Some are in full song suggesting
that nesting may begin soon. They sometimes breed when snow still
covers the ground, usually later in March and April. American
Goldfinch: This is the most common winter finch. Most are at
Evening Grosbeak: A few have appeared at feeders in
Haliburton over the last two weeks. This species has declined as a
feeder bird in central Ontario during the past 20 years. Evening
Grosbeak breeding habitat is forests with a high percentage of
cherries (genus Prunus). In fact, Evening Grosbeaks may be keyed to
cherries as a breeder. Breeding populations appear to be down in
central Ontario because of maturing forests and selective logging
(rather than the heavier cutting of the past in the Great Lakes-St
Lawrence Forest Region, a wide band of mixed forests which includes
Algonquin Park) and better control of forest fires. North of the
Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest is the Boreal Forest Region.
Northern Ontario forests have clearcutting which should favour the
sun-loving cherries, but forest fires are now put out better in
Ontario than in the past, which may be having a negative affect on
I thank Ron Tozer,
formerly Algonquin Park Naturalist, for his insights on winter
finches. Ron is now spending some of his time writing The Birds of