It's a great time to see rare birds in Lowcountry, South Carolina
The bird is so yellow they used to call it the banana bird. It’s so big it won’t fit in your hand. But the rarely seen evening grosbeak might sit nicely at your bird feeder this winter.
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A shortage of pine cone seeds in the Northeast and Ontario has the seed-eating grosbeak, other finches and similar birds on the move like it hasn’t been seen in years. Ornithologist Dennis Forsythe and other birders say this might become the best year in a generation for spotting wintering birds you just don’t see here.
In other words, this might be a good Christmas to give him or her that bird feeder you’ve been getting hints about.
Forsythe, who documents South Carolina sightings for the online bird listing eBird, hasn’t seen an evening grosbeak locally since the 1970s.
He’s already seen a red-breasted nuthatch at his James Island bird feeder, and he’s seen that bird only once before. Endearingly, the nuthatch has been snatching sunflower seeds from the feeder and storing them on a nearby tree branch.
Forsythe has never seen a white-winged crossbill, and “a big flight is apparently on the move,” he said. The birds have begun showing up in Manteo on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Sightings could get even wackier, he said. Birds such as pine grosbeaks or Bohemian waxwings could arrive. They’re usually not seen anywhere near this far south.
“The indications are this stuff is moving and it’s going to be a really big year,” Forsythe said.
Any one of the species or more could turn up with cool regulars like pine siskins, and purple or gold finches. The big question: When would they arrive?
“Who knows? Any time now. As weather worsens, they move on,” Forsythe said.