Monday , June 27 2022

They're gregarious and arrogant … and they're back!


Have returned! Well, in some places, anyway.

Evening grosbeaks are rather commanding in appearance and when they hit the power station, you notice them. Gregarious and quarrelsome, a flock of these birds, can provide a fun view as they battle for space and can grab most sunflower seeds.

This is a species that has what bird observers call "winter wreaths", in which for a few years these brightly colored birds are absent, and for years you can go to the edge of bankruptcy to buy sunflower seeds for them. And when grosbeaks show off in the evening, often tagging along them is their cousins, grosbeak pine and a smattering of finch smaller species.

In the mid-1960s, our first Orillia bird feeder attracted these birds along with some blue jays and chickadees. I was 10 years old and when I saw those bright colored birds on the other side of the kitchen window, I was dependent on bird watching.

For many years, after the arrival of evening fairs, it became the climax of winter.

However, within 30 years, these birds began to become rare, with some grosbeak-free winters anywhere in southern Ontario. What's up with that? This would become an example of scientific curiosity for many people, and the response to the decline was disturbing.

But first, a bit of background on this bright yellow penis bird.

Evening hamsters are originally a western bird, the Colorado basin being their base. In the early 1800s there are records of these large birds, which lie in the firs and pines of this region. For unknown reasons, they then started eastward expansion of their range.

In accordance with Birds from Simcoe County the book by OE Devitt, the first local record of an evening grosbeak was at Barrie on May 24, 1886. By 1890 they became a common vision, that year being remarked as "the winter of the great incursion into the southern Ontario and New States of England. "

One of the factors considered to be behind this arrival was the simultaneous introduction of a new tree species from the Red River Valley, the Manitoba Maple.

There are actually two species of trees that grosbeak evening is closely tied, Manitoba art for a source of winter seed and black spruce in northern Ontario for a summer nesting area. And here is part of the response to the fluctuating population of this bird.

From the 1940s to the 1970s, an insect called spruce worm was aggressive in northern Ontario, and these protein-rich insects fed many grosbeaks in the evening.

Since the 1980s, the forest industry has begun an extensive airspray program to control these tree burning insects and has worked well. Not only the spruce worms have struck back, just like the other forest insects. Without food for grosbeaks it meant that very few young birds survived.

When the population of 1968 was compared to the population in 2015, there was a 97% reduction! Together with the loss of food, there have been several diseases that have targeted cloves, and the spread of salmonella, West Nile and purple finch disease have had an impact on weakened birds.

However, a small population of grosbeaks in the evening took place on, and as spruce worms recovered in its own 40-year cycle, there are now enough birds to be remarked once again at our winter bird nurseries.

However, in August 2018 (ahh … August … warm weather, sunshine … oops, I'm moving away), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry of Ontario added the grosbeak evening to their notoriety species in danger , Special concern due to the very low population.

As the effects of climate change have entered, one of the tree species that indicates that it can not maintain its current status is spruce. If spruce trees die or change in size, insects feeding on them will be affected, and birds that eat insects will be affected, and the diversity of birds surviving in Ontario will be affected. So maybe you do not have to buy so many bird seeds. Hmm … this is not a good thing.

If you are lucky this winter to see the grosbeaks of the evening, or grosbeaks pin, consider the bigger picture. These birds are literally the "canary of the coal mine"; if we have to fight to survive, perhaps our fate is not too long behind.

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