Evening Grosbeak among irrupting species in eastern North America
Various northern species are moving south beyond their typical winter ranges and into the upper Great Lakes, Midwestern and Northeastern United States in search of food. Irruptions are sporadic and never a given from year to year, because they are based on the availability – or lack thereof – of certain birds' northern food sources, such as pine cones, birch seeds, and mountain-ash berries.
In recent weeks birders have reported Evening Grosbeaks as far south as the Outer Banks of North Carolina, as well as in Virginia, Kentucky, southern Illinois, and southern Missouri (Steve Bell).
Michigan is one of the states that has enjoyed bumper numbers of Evening Grosbeak in the last few weeks. The last irruption into Michigan was as recently as autumn 2020 – and experts at the time declared that irruption the biggest in two decades. In recent weeks birders have reported Evening Grosbeaks as far south as the Outer Banks of North Carolina, as well as in Virginia, Kentucky, southern Illinois, and southern Missouri. Numbers are increasing in some locations of the western Great Lakes as well, with a flock of some 130 reported visiting feeders in north-west Wisconsin.
Another species involved in this autumn's movement is Purple Finch. Numbers have recently been found in good numbers in the southern states with a few making it to the Gulf Coast.
To help people get a sense of the likelihood and scale of irruptions each year, the annual Winter Finch Forecast – published online by the Finch Research Network – makes predictions based on the availability of food. According to the winter finch forecast for 2022, other species making their way south include Pine Grosbeak, Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin and Bohemian Waxwing.