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Print

Birds in search of food heading south from Canada

December 11, 2012 at 07:08 AM

The Associated Press

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — Bird-watchers in Massachusetts are seeing what is expected to be an invasion of hungry birds flocking to the region.

The Telegram & Gazette of Worcester reports (http://bit.ly/SNO2ab ) that grosbeaks, pine siskins, finches, redpolls and other seed-eaters are winging their way south from the forests of Canada, hoping to find something to eat. The tree seed crop, normally plentiful in the forests of Ontario and Quebec, has in some cases failed, causing what is known as a bird irruption.

David Small, president of the Athol Bird and Nature Club, a bird count leader in central Massachusetts and a supervisor at the Quabbin Reservoir, said he has seen pine grosbeaks at the reservoir headquarters and several locations. Central Massachusetts birders also report seeing white-winged and red crossbills.

“The invasion is under way,” Small said.

He said he saw more than 250 white-winged crossbills in early November.

“So a big year is upon us. I can’t recall a year it started this early with such diversity and large numbers,” he said.

Using data from ornithologists in Ontario, the National Audubon Society issued a winter bird warning that due to little food in Canada, birds are traveling to the United States.

The warning was issued more for the interest of those who will take part in the Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count, which takes place nationally from Dec. 14 through Jan. 5. The bird count often offers up data to support what ornithologists are predicting based on climate conditions.

The seed crop failure may have been connected to a lack of rainfall. Central and Eastern Canada experienced long-term drought conditions this year.

Two snowy owls received medical care last month in Nebraska, far from their Arctic homes. Seeing the owls in Nebraska was unusual but not unprecedented. Bird experts say incidents are tied to the population cycle of lemmings, a dietary staple, and other factors including weather.

___

Information from: Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Mass.), http://www.telegram.com


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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