Evening Grosbeaks, Common Redpolls, Purple Finches, and Pine Siskins. Those birds are all considered winter finches. Purple Finches and Pine Siskins usually show up in our area each winter. Evening Grosbeaks and Common Redpolls DO NOT. There have been reports of all of those birds on Carolinabirds ListServ during the past week.
I haven’t seen an Evening Grosbeak in North Carolina in almost twenty years and that was a flyby of 7 or 8 birds over the field area of Few’s Ford, Eno River State Park in Durham. I’ve never seen a redpoll in the state.
Evening Grosbeaks are big and beautiful. The males are brightly colored with yellow, black and white, with a horn-colored bills. The females are less colorful but still impressive. Flocks of these handsome birds wander around the countryside looking for seed bearing trees, like maple and ash. If they happen to come across your bird feeder on their search you’ll be out buying more seed the next day, they attack bird feeders.
Much smaller than grosbeaks, Common Redpolls also travel the winter countryside searching for seeds, typically small seeds, which means that they will come to your thistle feeder with the goldfinches that you may already have. They travel in specific flocks with other redpolls. However, most of the redpolls that I’ve seen, other than the flocks that I’ve encountered in the north, Upstate New York or New England, have been lone redpolls at feeders munching on seeds alongside goldfinches and siskins.
So, keep a lookout for these birds. If you see them consider yourself lucky, they don’t show up in our area often. You may also want to consider buying more seed now just in case it’s the grosbeaks that drop in on you.
If you happen to see any of these species here at the Museum, please let me know as soon as you can, I’d like very much to get some photos.