As the month of September comes to an end, we await the arrival of many of the fall and winter bird species. According to records maintained by the former Chautauqua Bird hotline, this is an appropriate time to be on the lookout for several early unusual winter arrivals such as Crossbills, Siskins, Redpolls, and Finches.
Starting with the Crossbills, the two species that have been recorded here in Chautauqua County are the Red Crossbill and the White-winged Crossbill. These two visitors from the north start making their appearance around late October or early November, and depart back to their breeding grounds about late April and May of the following year. The Red Crossbill normally breeds from Alaska south to some of the higher elevations of Canada and the United States. This bird has irregularly been observed in our county from late fall to mid May, preferring conifer trees with cones still attached. Include with this article are several photos taken by Bob Peterson of Fredonia of both these species. I thank Bob for his contribution. This member of the finch family has not been recorded as a breeder in our area, however I suspect that future breeding studies by county organizations may be surprised. That is strictly my prediction, and not yet confirmed by other local residents. As usual, I will stand to be corrected.
Two species also observed at this time of the year are the Pine Siskin and the Common Redpoll. Starting with the Pine Siskin, this bird appears in our area about the end of September and usually departs back north by the end of June of the following year. The Common Redpoll arrives in our county around the end of September, and departs for its breeding grounds around late June of the following year. The Redpoll breeds from northern Alaska to James Bay in Newfoundland. While considered an irruptive species, the earliest local arrival date for this species occurred in western New York is around October 5 of 1977 when single birds were observed throughout our region. The Common Redpoll is usually observed in our county near the end of May and departs for breeding grounds by late October. The arrival of these birds is said to be governed by the presence of an abundance of conifer cones. Another rare arrival to our area is the Pine Grosbeak. This larger member of this family primarily breeds in North America from Alaska to southern Ontario, and is a very rare visitor to our county. Hotline records have indicated that it has been observed over the years from late November to early March during rare irruption years.
The last birds to discuss are the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, the largest member of this group, along with Purple Finch. The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is primarily a summer and early fall visitor to our county with a few reported winter sightings. This bird normally appears in our county from about the end of April to the middle of October. A single unusual and unconfirmed sighting occurred during a previous month of January is the only winter record reported.
Article suggestions, photographs and data may be submitted to me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular U.S.Mail to 38 Elm St. Fredonia, N.Y. 14063. Thank you.