Date: 11/10/20 8:02 am
From: bob mcguire <bmcguire...>
Subject: [cayugabirds-l] Winter Finches/ Red Crossbills
I spent four+ hours yesterday morning at the corner of Shackham and Herlihy Roads (SW corner of Onondaga County 42.794626, -76.009667) observing and recording multiple flocks of finches (Red Crossbills, Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins) as they flew over, circled around, and came in the feed and grit (some of them, anyway). Checklist:

This has turned out to be the go-to place for crossbills this entire fall and now for the influx of “winter finches”. The spot is easy to get to, open and easy to move around in, and provides multiple food sources (cones, fruits and berries). The dirt surface of Herlihy Road seems to be a favorite spot for the crossbills to pick up grit - and brings the birds down for extended, close-up viewing. The first birds tend to arrive right around sunrise, with additional flocks and family groups scattered throughout the morning. I was about to leave at 10:30 (after a quiet hour or so) when a small group came in, perched for a few minutes, then dropped down right in front of me to grit.

I am still going through my recordings, but it appears that there are several “types” of Red Crossbills represented there. Type 1 seems to dominate, with either Type 10 and/or Type 2 in the mix. In addition, there have been numerous juvenile crossbills (fledged within the last several months and now molted into early adult plumage). A few weeks ago the juries were still giving their “chit-too” begging calls. Yesterday I was able to pick out most to the crossbill repertoire: flight call (as they passed overhead and circled), various contact calls (while perched in the poplars alongside the road, and even some song fragments.

In addition to the crossbills (red only for me, though there have been reports of white-winged in the mix), there was an early, noisy flock of Evening Grosbeaks that came in with the crossbills, perched for several minutes, then flew off to the south. And - another noisy flock of some 50 Pine Siskins that flew in and out of the spruces just to the north of the corner. There is plenty of gone-to-seed goldenrod around, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ll get some Common Redpolls shortly.

Note: If you get there early enough, you might still hear the Barred Owl calling from down on Shackham Pond.

Bob McGuire

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