Predictions this year for bird migrations indicate that many species may irrupt into Massachusetts and most of New England. An irruption is when northern birds move to or through an area in abnormally high numbers. Pine Siskin, Red-Breasted Nuthatch, Evening Grosbeak, and many more bird species will be in the area in record numbers due to the boreal forests not producing well with conifer seeds.
With the high bird population, food sources may become scarce. You can help our feather friends by putting out birdseed and plenty of freshwater. Not only will you be feeding the birds, but you will get to enjoy the many different species that are passing through or hanging around this winter. Especially the Pine Siskins!
This year the Pine Siskin has invaded the United States in search of food, inundating backyard feeders across the country. Without question, it’s one of the biggest irruption years in recorded history for the finches.
What is a Pine Siskin? Pine Siskins are very small songbirds with sharp, pointed bills and short, notched tails. Their feathers are brown and very streaky with subtle yellow edgings on wings and tails. Flashes of yellow can erupt as they take flight, flutter at branch tips, or display during mating. Their uniquely shaped bill is more slender than that of most finches. In-flight, look for their forked tails and pointed wingtips.
Which Type of Seed Should I Put Out? Black-oil sunflower seeds attract the greatest number of species. These seeds have a high meat-to-shell ratio, birds love the taste. These seeds are high in fat which is especially important in the winter months. Their small size and thin shells make them easy for small birds to handle and crack. Several studies, including the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Seed Preference Test, show that this high-energy food is the favorite of most birds that visit feeders. Just remember squirrels will also be coming around to try and grab a meal from your bird feeder. The Bird Store and More in Sturbridge, MA offers feeders that are “squirrel resistant.
Millet is a small round seed. It comes in white and red varieties; most birds prefer white proso millet over red. Nyjer®, or thistle seed, is a delicacy for small Finches such as Goldfinches, Siskins, and Redpolls. Offering the small-sized, premium-priced Nyjer seeds in special Nyjer feeders will provide more value for your money. These feeders come in either a sock form with a small mesh fabric or a tube feeder with tiny ports that prevent the seeds from spilling out. Finches will pull the seeds individually through the mesh or ports to enjoy them. Millet is a small, inexpensive grain that is a popular ingredient in many birdseed mixes. Feeding millet to your backyard birds will provide them with the necessary nutrition and can attract a variety of different species to your feeders.
Don’t forget the freshwater! As temperatures freeze, water is hard to come by for the birds. The Bird Store and More in Sturbridge, Massachusetts has a variety of birdbaths that can keep water from freezing.
Visit the Bird Store and More. We are easy to get to from Agawam, Feeding Hills, Fiskdale, Brimfield, Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Hampden, Holland, Holyoke, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Monson, Palmer, Thorndike, Southwick, Springfield, Wales, West Springfield, Westfield, and Wilbraham.