The 2021-2022 Winter Finch Forecast is out.  The forecast is made by analyzing the status of wild food crops such as spruce cones and mountain ash berries and is based on whether or not there is enough food to feed hungry finches in the forests of Ontario  If food predictions are low, an irruption of birds into the US is predicted.

Extreme weather this summer has played a significant part in this winter’s forecast. With over 2000 forest fires stretching from Northwestern Ontario to British Columbia, record-setting high temperatures across much of western Canada (up to 49.6 Celsius/121 Fahrenheit in Lytton British Columbia), and severe droughts in wide areas westward from Lake Superior, food sources have been significantly impacted. Therefore, the Midwest is expected to see more finches this winter than the northeast.  The northeast will see some irruptive finches but not the large numbers seen in 2020.

Along the southern edge of the boreal forest, a belt of good to bumper food crop is reported from Lake Superior eastward through Central Ontario, southern Quebec Atlantic Canada to Newfoundland, southward to Northern New England, and New York state.

  • Most years, Purple Finches migrate south out of Canada. This year the majority of birds should leave but go no further south than Kentucky.
  • With the excellent spruce, hemlock, and eastern white cedar crop across southeastern Canada and Northeastern border states, most Pine Siskins in the east should remain in that area for the winter.
  • In the fall of 2020, we experienced a generational irruption of Evening Grosbeaks southward. With that, we may experience an “echo flight” (with smaller numbers) this fall. This year there is the ‘belt of food’ between the four large Spruce Budworm outbreaks and where they irrupted last winter. In the east, expect some birds to remain in the boreal forest and others to move south into Central Ontario, Southern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, New England states, New York, and maybe Pennsylvania for the winter.

You can read the complete forecast here. There also is a 30-minute interview with the forecasters on YouTube