Saturday, December 24, 2016

Winter Finch Report - From a Tree

Like the juvenile Red-tailed Hawk pictured, I've spent a lot of this month hunting from above. Red-tails often perch hunt, and that is my usual method as well since flight hunting isn't an option. The freezer is full, at least for now, and many fine experiences with the natural world were had, from the flying squirrels outside my north Jersey cabin at night to Pileated Woodpeckers every day, a species which very, very seldom strays to my home county of Cape May, NJ.

Most hunters pay attention to far more than their quarry while hunting, and my hunting partners and I take birding while hunting to an extreme level.  Often the first thing we talk about when meeting up at day's end is birds, not deer. Waiting quietly in the winter woods day after day is an excellent way to detect migrating finches, for example, of which this year there are very, very few.

After about 40 December hours listening from a mountain, here's the report: no Pine Siskins. Remarkably, no Purple Finches, surprising after a good fall showing. No crossbills. Decent numbers of American Goldfinches. No Evening Grosbeaks, but oh, pearl of greatest price, a single Pine Grosbeak flew over one day calling, my first ever for New Jersey since they stopped coming to the state the year I started seriously birding.

January and its birds and deer awaits.