• Sunday, January 06th, 2013

Christmas came early this year to the Newitt household. I have been enjoying the visitors to my bird feeders since mid October, but while my husband and I were having coffee on the screened porch one late fall morning, we were treated to a gift from the north. No not Santa, yet. While watching the goldfinches gorge themselves on the sunflower seeds, a Red-breasted Nuthatch flew in and grabbed a seed, then flew off. We followed his comings and goings for several minutes. Each time he’d fly in, grab a seed, then fly off to a nearby perch. Quite a treat for the bird and us.
The next day, as we watched several American Goldfinches feeding, we noticed two other birds on the ground that were much larger than the finches. After closer inspection and a retrieval of the binoculars, we realized they were Evening Grosbeaks. Then the grosbeaks were joined by about 30 Pine Siskins. Wow, what a show. It was quite a party!
It seems last summers drought caused a massive failure for the pine cone production. This failure forced some northern birds to migrate further south. It is a rare treat for us “southerners” since these birds aren’t seen here every year; only when conditions merit them to move south.
Pine Siskins look very much like the winter plumage goldfinches, but they have heavy streaking on their breast. Red-breasted nuthatches are small inquisitive birds with black and white stripes on their head and a reddish hue on their, you guessed it, breast. The evening grosbeaks haven’t been seen in Bucks County in 10 years, and though it wasn’t confirmed by an expert, my husband and I feel confident that’s what they were. They have been recorded close by, so it isn’t just grandstanding. Keep an eye out!

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