Look for and attract ‘winter finches’ to your feeders
By Ryan Brady
DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program biologist
WISCONSIN – Have you seen this year’s “superflight” of winter finches like pine siskins, evening grosbeaks and common redpolls?
It’s not uncommon for one or two of these northern species to overwinter here, but this season has already seen unusually good numbers of six or seven species. Researchers call such mass movements of many species a “superflight” instead of the more commonly known “irruption,” which is mass movement of one species.
Many of these northern species had banner nesting seasons in Canada’s boreal forests in 2020 but poor tree seed and fruit crops forced them south in search of food.
How to attract these winter beauties to your backyard
- The single best seed to offer is black oil sunflower, which has high fat content and attracts the most species.
- Small finches like siskins and redpolls prefer nyjer (thistle), while white millet and suet can be great additions for ground-feeders and woodpeckers, respectively.
- Provide a heated water dish that is deep enough for birds to drink from but not bathe.
- Every week or two clean all food and water sources to minimize diseases like salmonellosis and keep birds healthy.