Pine Grosbeaks At Oxtongue Lake in Ontario
Bob and I were able to observe a group of Pine Grosbeaks on a visit to Oxtongue Lake, in Ontario. What a marvelous opportunity to study their behavior and also take a few pictures. Much like Gray Jays, Pine Grosbeaks are not put off by people, and actually are very easy to approach.
This adult male was busy snatching up some seeds on the ground. Pine Grosbeaks are actually members of the finch family. I love the rosy red color of this male, and the mixture of black and white on his wings really sets off his plumage.
These were but two of the many Pine Grosbeaks that we saw on that day. The group numbered around 15 birds, but it is not uncommon to have upwards of a 100 traveling together. These two females have a yellowish colored head and rump with grey backs and stomachs.
Given the weather we had in Ontario this past spring, a lot of hardwood and coniferous trees did not produce a lot of seed crops for these birds to eat. The early frost in the spring also wiped out almost 90 per cent of the apple crop in Ontario. Among the various types of apples wiped out were crab apples, a type of apple which Pine Grosbeaks love to eat.
As you see in this short video that Bob filmed, the Pine Grosbeaks, Blue Jays and Chickadees were taking full advantage of my dad’s, Marvin’s, birdseed.
Given the shortfall on sources of food in the wild, this small group of Pine Grosbeaks certainly took full advantage of the sunflower seeds that my dad had set out for them. Each winter for as long as I can remember, my parents have provided a well-stocked feeding station for the birds that visit them in the winter.
According to the Ontario Field Ornithologists, many different birds truly need us to set out food this year at our bird feeders. The O.F.O. notes that early frost, along with dry weather, has wiped out many different native sources of food for wild birds. This shortage includes foods like hazelnuts and beechnuts that in good years were easily sourced by birds in the forests.
They also note the loss of these nuts and cones is presently impacting many types of birds like Blue Jays, Nuthatches and Evening Grosbeaks. They hope that people while help these birds through a tough winter by setting out food in their bird feeders.
For now, the Pine Grosbeaks visiting my dad’s feeder are doing okay, but as all birders know, a shortage of food in an area will lead most birds to move elsewhere in a desperate hunt for food. Hopefully, in these times of climate change, my children and their children will continue to have the benefit of hearing and seeing these lovely birds the way I have since being a child at Oxtongue.