I just got my copy of the new November/December 2011 issue of Bird Watcher's Digest - the one with the Common Redpolls on the cover - and I'm pretty excited!! Why, you ask?
Well, I was honored to write the Species Profile article about redpolls!!
Here's a few excerpts:
"The most recent large and widespread common redpoll irruption was in the winter of 2007-2008. The winter finch forecast predicted "a big flight of redpolls into southern Ontario and bordering United States" because of the poor birch seed crops. We were told to expect redpolls, and redpolls we got! The irruption that winter helped produce one of the busiest winters I've ever had in my yard. It also brought me a first-ever visit by a small group of pine grosbeaks and 30 evening grosbeaks as they, too, irrupted southward."
Redpolls come to us from the low-arctic tundra, a green and brown world of low-growing birches, willows, alders and areas of dense grasses, heaths, mosses, and lichen. In this scrubby habitat the birds build a cup-shaped nest low in a shrub, often just a few feet off the ground. On a base of fine twigs, they add a thick, soft layer of plant fibers, animal hair, or feathers from another tundra nester, the willow ptarmigan."
Watching a few hundred redpolls in the yard is a feast for the eyes and ears. They're a raucous lot, constantly chattering. The mesh feeder looks like it's filled with swarming bees, and it's in a perpetual state of flux as the birds jockey for position. Even so, redpolls seem to get along better than their cousins the siskins, which at times seem to be more intent on fending off the next siskin than on eating."
To read the entire article, you can pick up single issues at our Wild Birds Unlimited shop in Saratoga Springs NY and possibly at a Wild Birds Unlimited near you. Print and digital subscriptions are available on the the Bird Watcher's Digest website.
Cover art for the issue was painted by artist Stephen Leed.
My heartfelt thanks go to the folks at Bird Watcher's Digest - especially Bill Thompson III - for engaging me in this project!