Irruption Alert: Look for Evening Grosbeaks at Bird Feeders

Backyard birders should watch for evening grosbeaks in winter 2020. The annual finch forecast also reveals other species you might see at feeders.

evening grosbeaks on a platform feederCourtesy Nancy Tully
Evening grosbeaks on a bird feeder

Grab your binoculars and watch your bird feeders for evening grosbeaks. According to the 2020 Winter Finch Forecast from the Ontario Field Ornithologists, “this spectacular winter finch appears to be on the move this winter.”

Tyler Hoar took the reins of the annual finch count forecast from Ron Pittaway this year. “Expect to see evening grosbeaks in southern Ontario, southern Quebec, Maritime Provinces, New York and the New England states, with some finches traveling farther south into the United States. At feeders they prefer black oil sunflower seeds,” he writes.

Tadoussac Bird Observatory in Quebec observed grosbeaks moving primarily toward the southwest. The observatory’s visual counts are reported to be the highest early fall numbers recorded in 25 years.

These are the 5 grosbeaks backyard birders should know.

red-breasted nuthatchCourtesy Gail Huddle
Red-breasted nuthatch

Purple Finches and Red-Breasted Nuthatches

Tyler also expects most purple finches to migrate south out of Eastern Canada this winter. “Reports of early movement of this species into the border states have been occurring for weeks,” he writes.

Learn how to tell the difference between house finches and purple finches.

Birders should also look for red-breasted nuthatches at feeders.

“Red-breasted nuthatches have been irrupting south since mid-August. Individuals have made it as far as Oklahoma and Alabama. With cone crops in the eastern boreal forest mostly poor, expect this species to continue to move southward. At feeders, this species prefers black oil sunflower seeds, suet, and peanuts,” he writes.

Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.