Northern Wintering Birds Now in Nashville

November 5, 2020

Irruption Winter in All the Right Ways

by Laura Cook, BIRD Research Coordinator

2020 has been difficult, but our feathered friends continue to delight us with their beautiful songs and impress us with their long-distance migrations, shifting our attention from the pains on the ground to the joys of the sky, and putting it all into perspective. 

One exciting gift from the birds this winter is that it appears to be an irruption winter. No - that’s not a typo - and yes, it sounds terrifying -  but in fact, it’s a special treat. An irruption winter is a movement of northern wintering bird species to more southern regions, like Tennessee. This can happen every few years when there is a high abundance of prey, as we’re seeing with the Northern Saw-whet Owls; or when the seed availability is low, as is the case for birds such as Red-breasted Nuthatch and Pine Siskin. 

Already, the Tennessee Rare Bird Alert (yes, it’s a thing!) has broadcast accounts of Red-breasted Nuthatches, Purple Finches, and even Evening Grosbeaks in our area. Just this week, we captured a Pine Siskin at our WPNC Bird Banding Station -  the first since 1990!  

So be on the look-out for these northern birds this winter and stay tuned into the research and findings of our B.I.R.D. Program.

For additional resources, visit Cornell’s All About Birds or this fun article in Audubon.

And don’t forget to #ProtectTheBirds and #ProtectWarnerParks by making a donation or becoming a member today.


Virtual Field Trips Library

Northern Wintering Birds Now in Nashville

November 5, 2020

Irruption Winter in All the Right Ways

by Laura Cook, BIRD Research Coordinator

2020 has been difficult, but our feathered friends continue to delight us with their beautiful songs and impress us with their long-distance migrations, shifting our attention from the pains on the ground to the joys of the sky, and putting it all into perspective. 

One exciting gift from the birds this winter is that it appears to be an irruption winter. No - that’s not a typo - and yes, it sounds terrifying -  but in fact, it’s a special treat. An irruption winter is a movement of northern wintering bird species to more southern regions, like Tennessee. This can happen every few years when there is a high abundance of prey, as we’re seeing with the Northern Saw-whet Owls; or when the seed availability is low, as is the case for birds such as Red-breasted Nuthatch and Pine Siskin. 

Already, the Tennessee Rare Bird Alert (yes, it’s a thing!) has broadcast accounts of Red-breasted Nuthatches, Purple Finches, and even Evening Grosbeaks in our area. Just this week, we captured a Pine Siskin at our WPNC Bird Banding Station -  the first since 1990!  

So be on the look-out for these northern birds this winter and stay tuned into the research and findings of our B.I.R.D. Program.

For additional resources, visit Cornell’s All About Birds or this fun article in Audubon.

And don’t forget to #ProtectTheBirds and #ProtectWarnerParks by making a donation or becoming a member today.


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