11 January 2013

Common Redpoll Irruption 2012-2013

This Common Redpoll, which I photographed on Nov 8, 2012 in Steel Canyon, Cache Co., was among the first of the irruption, a sign of things to come.
This year has been absolutely unprecedented for Common Redpolls in Utah, at least as far back as records have been kept.  For a sense of the scale of this irruption, here are all the eBird records from 1900 to 2011:


And here are the eBird records from just the last three months:


Large flocks have been documented in Utah before: for example, 120 were seen in the 1988 Christmas Bird Count in Kanab, and a flock of 40 was reported in Duchesne County in 1958.  But this is certainly the best-documented irruption of them in the state, and perhaps the largest.  Birds like these irrupt from the north when their seed crops fail and they must wander further south than usual to find sufficient food.  You can help document this irruption into Utah by submitting your records to eBird (a photo or a thorough description in the comments field always helps), and by submitting records to the Utah Bird Records Committee.  But most importantly, get out and enjoy this experience, which might be a once-in-a-lifetime event!  A thistle feeder is a good way to bring this species to your yard, but they will also come to other kinds of seed.  They are also particularly fond of birches and wild thistle, so watch for these plants near your favorite birding spots.

3 comments:

aforsyth said...

Just saw a male common redpoll at my thistle feeder in River Heights (2/3/13, 11:00am).

Fergiemoto said...

Yesterday morning and this morning our feeders have been visited by a few male Common Redpolls. They went for the black sunflower seeds rather than the thistle seeds. Location is above the Bountiful bench.

Gary Raff said...

I had the craziest thing happen this year near Fairbanks, Ak. In past years my redpolls (hundreds of them.....my wife got pictures of me scattering seed, and they look like scenes from the movie "Birds") have hung around into April, with a dozen or so into May. This year they just up and left.....enmasse......on or about Feb 28, 2014. No stragglers, nothing. They just up and disappeared, literally overnight! I have no idea where this large a number of redpolls could have gone, but I did witness what I believe to be my first observance of an irruption. The only thing happy about this sudden departure is my wallet.