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Evening Grosbeaks at Reinstein Woods

Published November 02, 2012
Tags: Parks and Preserves, Evening Grosbeak, Cooper's Hawk, Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, House Finch, American Goldfinch, Mourning Dove, White-throated Sparrow, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Tufted Titmouse, Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Reinstein Woods, Cheektowaga, NY

There have been many reports of Evening Grosbeaks coming down from Canada into Western New York lately. I've been watching the yard, searching the trees, and stocking the feeders in the hopes of attracting and spotting one of these rarities.  So far, I haven't seen one in my own yard, but I took the short trip to Reinstein Woods today where a small flock has been visiting since Wednesday.

The trip was a success!  As I approached the visitor's center, I recognized the grosbeaks feeding at the feeders from the pictures I've seen. I quickly stopped, not wanting to scare them, as the large window behind the feeders contained a small host of spectators.

After the grosbeaks had their fill and retreated to the trees, I went inside to warm up and watch from the window.  A Cooper's Hawk startled us with a quick rush, leaving empty handed (or beaked). After that rush of adrenaline calmed down, the feeders got busy with plenty of other visitors, including: Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, House Finches, American Goldfinches, Mourning Doves, a White-throated Sparrow, Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice, Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a Gray Squirrel that never stopped eating the whole time I was there!

I've learned a couple of interesting facts about Evening Grosbeaks recently.  Apparently, they are irruptive migrants, which means they migrate based on the availability of food sources.  Evening Grosbeaks, a member of the finch family, especially enjoy the spruce budworm, but those are becoming less available to them. At Reinstein Woods, I met a gentleman, Art, who said he hasn't seen Evening Grosbeaks in WNY in many, many years - and that seems to be the case all across our region. This is an exciting year, but sadly, we're getting to see these cool birds only because they can't find their favored budworms.  Fortunately for us, they love black oil sunflower seeds too!

Pine Siskins are already being reported, White-winged Crossbills have been seen, and word has it that we may be seeing some Pine Grosbeaks too.  One of the birders on the bird list referred to this year as an "apparent full blown finch flight year". Hmmmm, this could be a fun season!  So keep watching; you just never know!
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Female Evening Grosbeak
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Evening Grosbeak
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Evening Grosbeak
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Four female Evening Grosbeaks
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This female came up close as I was approaching the visitor center
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I was impressed with the lavish Wild Birds Unlimited feeder set up! Sweet!
Reply from: Tom Connare on 11/4/2012 7:57 AM
 Lovely photos of the evening grosbeaks. Just wondering what camera and lens you use. Do you digiscope?
Reply from: Sue on 11/4/2012 8:02 AM
 Hi Tom, no, I don't digiscope yet. There have been times - especially recently, that I wish I did. Waterfowl are especially difficult to ID with just a camera and binoculars. I'm using a Canon 7D with a 70-200mm telephoto plus, at times, a 2x extender.