The word is that this winter will be a good irruption year for northern finches. Basically, because of food shortages or other factors, various fancy northern birds are wandering farther south than they usually do, which means an increased chance of unusual visitors in the Northeastern US. Since November, I've been hearing reports of Evening Grosbeaks showing up in our Central New York county with some frequency. Evening Grosbeaks are -- in normal years -- a very rare bird in this area, but this year, they're definitely around. Having never seen an Evening Grosbeak before (at least not that I can remember), I was so hoping that I'd get to see one this year. And then yesterday, in what feels like an amazingly lucky event, a flock of 12 Evening Grosbeaks paid a visit to our yard! Even luckier, I was working from home, so I got to enjoy and celebrate their visit. Oh my goodness, Evening Grosbeaks!
Most of the individuals in this flock were females or immature birds, with intricate costumes of muted gray, olive, yellow, white, and black. And that big ivory beak is really something. These birds seem to have mostly come to our yard for the sunflower seeds. I'm really glad I put these feeders here!
These are big finches, and they look almost monstrous from some angles, and especially in groups:
Even better! (And note the dwarfed Tufted Titmouse on the left.)
The American Goldfinches who came to the platform feeder in between Evening Grosbeak visits look so tiny in comparison:
Mostly, though, the goldfinches stuck to the large tube feeder stocked with nyjer seed (the most recent addition to our bird-feeding setup), leaving the platform feeder to the visiting grosbeaks:
Here's a wider view, with grosbeaks on the right, and tiny goldfinches on the left (and yes, that feeder pole has gotten really tilty):
This flock of Evening Grosbeaks included one adult male, who came down to the feeder only while I was inside and taking pictures through windows; that combination of brown and yellow body, glowing white wings, and bright yellow eyebrow really is incredible:
The male Evening Grosbeak certainly stands out, but I love the colors and patterns on the other birds in the flock as well. What a lovely coincidence that the other birds' wings and tails blend so well with their background of black sunflower seeds in snow:
The sun even came out for a bit, so here are some Evening Grosbeaks in the sunlight:
How amazing to meet a brand new bird right here at home! The same flock of Evening Grosbeaks even stopped by our feeders again this morning, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they'll make our yard part of their regular route this winter.... We'll see! At the very least, I'll be sure to keep our feeders well stocked. The season is off to a fantastic start, and who knows what fancy creatures might show up next!