Finches have dominated the non-raptor flight the last twelve days, which is fairly typical for late October. Indeed, about 60,000 finches have been seen so far this season, which reestablishes Duluth as one of the premier places to see finch migration (after last year’s virtual absence of finches). Pine Siskins continue to amaze us in mind-numbing numbers. The season total is now over 40,000 siskins, and it seems likely that many more are to come, since the blistering pace of migration does not seem to be slowing down. We have had three days of over 4,000 birds, including 4762 on October 19th, 4389 on October 23rd, and 4708 on November 1st. These little guys are on the move, and they do not seem to be stopping! It will be interesting to hear about how far south these flocks move in the coming winter. It is going to be a long hard winter for sure!
But despite this almost overwhelming flight of siskins, the highlight of the last week and a half has to be the record high count of 5122 Purple Finch that occurred on October 24th. This event truly was overwhelming, as a continuous stream of large flocks of Purple Finches moved down the shore, all very high overhead, such that many flocks were only detected by their calls, and so it seems likely that many additional flocks were probably missed that were not directly overhead. At times there were several layers of flocks overhead, a hundred or more in each flock. It was one of those days when you know that the number of birds is way more than you can possibly hope to find and count, but it is nevertheless wonderful to stand witness to such an event. This is more than double the high count of Purple Finches set four days previous when 2241 were seen on October 20th, which brings the season total to over 14,000. Perhaps more than any other group of birds, the finch flights seem to be completely unpredictable, as this Purple Finch flight occurred on a beautiful sunny day with south winds and a high of nearly 70 degrees!
|Close-up of migrating Pine Siskins, showing relatively dark streaked bodies and short notched tails. The similarly sized American Goldfinches (more uniform buff-yellow coloring) and Common Redpolls (colder gray-white coloring) both have longer tails|
|Common Raven migrating over Hawk Ridge- a total of 1376 have been counted so far this season, with more to come throughout November. It remains somewhat of a puzzle where all of these ravens are going.|
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory