As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Winter Hunger Causes North Jersey Bird Invasion

North Jersey is in the midst of an invasion from Canada.
The feathered intruders — finches, to be exact — normally spend winter far to the north but have been arriving here in waves over the past several months, giving birders a rare winter treat.

Clouds of redpolls, a species of finch, have taken over a large stand of birch trees in Losen Slote Creek Park in Little Ferry. “The trees were just loaded with them one morning,” Don Torino, president of the Bergen County Audubon Society, told The Record of Woodland Park (

That, in turn, has drawn flocks of bird-watchers to the park.

The redpolls make a distinctive buzzing sound. “You could hear them before you could even see them,” Torino said. “And then there were birders from all over the state wandering through the woods.”

While the redpolls have been landing en masse, other, more exotic birds have been discovered — including a lost American white pelican and a pink-footed goose.
The invasion of redpolls and other species of finch, including pine siskins and the white-winged crossbill, has been spurred by lack of food in their normal range. They feed on the seeds of conifer trees, and in seasons when pine cones are few they head south to scavenge for other food sources.

“Last winter was really boring — there was nothing going on,” Torino said. “This year it’s incredible. I’ve never seen so many redpolls in my life. This is the kind of thing birders wait for.”

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