Purple Finch

A purple finch visits a backyard in New England last week.

The regular flow of feeder birds continued this past week, but they were joined by a few newcomers.

Two weeks ago, it was a lone red-breasted nuthatch that showed up and stayed for a day. This past week, a lone purple finch and a lone pine siskin joined the usual gang of backyard birds. The purple finch stayed for only one day — a few hours, to be more precise. The pine siskin, however, has visited daily ever since it first arrived on the scene.

Pine siskins are notorious for showing up in large numbers and cleaning out thistle feeders. I am surprised this siskin has not been joined by others of its kind, but so far it has been just the one. It mixes with a large group of American goldfinches and can be quite feisty when another bird tries to steal its perch. Pine siskins often flock with American goldfinches during their irruption years. While the one siskin is a bit of a surprise, the number of goldfinches I’ve had this year is a surprise in the other direction. Usually, I have anywhere from three to eight, but so far this fall the numbers have been much higher.

These surprise visits were augmented by another unexpected visit one recent late afternoon. I hadn’t seen “my” bluebirds since May. The other day I looked out and saw a female bluebird land on my makeshift log bird feeder. She was joined quickly by a male and another female. I knew I didn’t have anything on the feeder that would appeal to them, so I rushed outside to add mealworms to the selection of food on the log.

I knew they would flee when the door opened and I stepped out, but I hoped they would return after a few minutes. They flew only to the nearby branches and as soon as I went back into the house, all three of them came back. It was a nice surprise to see them again.

What I haven’t seen yet, and I’m not very happy about it, are evening grosbeaks. Of all the houses I have lived in and had bird-feeding stations set up, I have never seen an evening grosbeak. I have seen them in the “wild” but never at my feeders. Others are seeing them, as I have received a few reports from people from throughout New Hampshire. It is good to see that they are showing up here and there as it is a species in decline.

Three readers reported seeing these large yellow, white and black birds at their feeders last week. Lenny from Greenfield reported seeing about 20 evening grosbeaks one morning. Donna had two male and two female evening grosbeaks at her feeder in Dover. Tricia had three evening grosbeaks pay her a visit in Alstead.

I’ll keep my eyes open for these handsome birds, although I can’t complain about the fall action so far.

For the Birds runs Mondays in The Sentinel. Chris Bosak may be reached at chrisbosak26@gmail.com or through his website www.birdsofnewengland.com