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home : outdoors : outdoors   April 29, 2016

12/5/2012 5:00:00 PM
Look for northern finches this winter
Red crossbills have been seen in late November in northern Illinois. Their crossed bills evolved to extract seeds from pine cones.U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo
+ click to enlarge
Red crossbills have been seen in late November in northern Illinois. Their crossed bills evolved to extract seeds from pine cones.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo
Jeff Dankert
NewsTribune Reporter

An influx of northern finches even before the snow flies indicates there could be good winter watching for finches, said John McKee of Starved Rock Audubon Society.

“They’re showing up and it looks like it’s going to be a good winter for them,” McKee said. “We had an invasion a couple of years ago. The food crop must have crashed up north and maybe the drought has created problems up there.”

There were several sightings of red crossbills in late November across northern Illinois. Crossbills breed across Canada and northern United States. There also have been redpolls and evening grosbeaks, McKee said.

Crossbills eat pine cone seeds. Scan the tops of pine trees laden with cones, such as in old cemeteries, which usually have mature pines, McKee said.

At feeders finches will eat sunflower and thistle seed.

Related Links:
• Illinois Birders Forum

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