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Irruption, What Is It?
December 16, 2019

So How are you doing?

Despite The Holiday Season always being busy, things are well around here.

Snickers is a bit under the weather, chewing on the pot of Cat Grass way too much the past couple of days.

All pets go through this from time to time, we aren't worried (yet).

The weather continues to be up and down.

Some snow, some rain, very little sunshine, and I mean very little.

Still, 'His Glory', of this season reigns Supreme.

Oh to share this joy everyday of the year.

Aren't we supposed too?

The joy of giving, especially to those who are less fortunate.

God's word even mentions this for you and me.

"Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

2 Corinthians 9:7

This week I share some pictures taken in October from 'Bronner's' in Frankenmuth, MI.

Pictures don't do this massive building justice, as this store is literally acres and acres of nothing but Christmas.

At night, the whole area is decorated and lit for Christmas.

Pictures are from inside.

Above, you see Brandy the Poodle Pup enjoying the snow.

Also pictured is some Lake Effect snow falling with the local pond and woods as the backdrop.

Next week will be my Christmas Letter and then some well needed down time until January 6.

This week's letter is again a topic I cover every so often.


Because it happens every year to some degree.



Bird Irruption:

Just what is Irruption, and why does it occur?

Irruption is when a mass migration occurs from a typically non migratory bird.

Eruption, is what a volcano does.

Usually harsh weather or a lack of food will cause an irruptive year.

For some birds, there is no rhyme or reason for irruptive periods or years.

It just happens.

Pine siskins for example irrupt every other year, yet irruptions are on opposite years from Western Siskins and Eastern birds of the species.

Red-breasted nuthatches erupt ever 2 -3 years.

I haven't seen a Common-redpoll in more than a decade.


It just happens.

  Author and naturalist ' Henry David Thoreau' paused one cold December day in 1855 to ponder in a bleak Massachusetts swamp.

“The incredible phenomenon of small birds in winter - that ere long, amid the cold powdery snow, as if it were a fruit of the season, will come twittering a flock of delicate crimson-tinged birds, Common redpolls, to sport and feed on the seeds and buds now just ripe for them on the sunny side of a wood.”

Thoreau also knew that some winters the redpolls did not come, and their irregular appearances puzzled him.

After he watched a flock foraging in white birches along the Concord River, picking seeds out of catkins while hanging head-first from treetop twigs, he wrote, “Common as they are now, and were winter before last, I saw none last winter.”

Redpolls are no less erratic now than they were then.

It can be several years between irruption for these birds of Northern Canada's Boreal forests.

Irruption, the phenomenon typically involves one or more of North America's "big eight" boreal seed-eaters: the Common redpoll, Pine siskin, Purple finch, Evening grosbeak, Pine grosbeak, Red crossbill, White-winged crossbill and Red-breasted nuthatch.

To that list add the black-capped chickadee, whose large flights out of
the North Country are often overlooked because everybody sees chickadees every day.

This may explain why I have more chickadees this year. I have seen 10 and 12 at a time.

There is no set pattern for irruptive birds.

Migrants have predictable patterns, with irruptive species, there is no predictable time table or for most irruptions, what year it will occur.

To some extent, Red-breasted nuthatches have a predictable cycle, but on those years I will get a couple at my backyard.

This fall and early winter there are several nuthatches and I am thrilled.

Others are reporting Pine and Evening grosbeaks where they haven't been seen for years.

There is reason, but not rhyme, to the travels of boreal seed-eaters.

Contrary to popular belief, hard winters do not drive the birds south.

Although the Red-breasted nuthatch and various finches consume some insect life during summer months, they feed largely on conifer cones or the catkins and seeds of deciduous trees, all of which are high off the ground.

Heavy snow isn't a problem - nor is glacial cold.

Redpolls can survive at 60 degrees below zero if they have plenty of food,"

Pretty Amazing huh?

There have been several indications that this is indeed a major irruptive year.

According to Ontario Field Ornithologists, most coniferous and deciduous trees have very poor seed crops in Saskatchewan, much of Ontario and western Quebec.

Severe drought conditions throughout much of Michigan (esp. The U.P.) contribute to these seed failures and birds have moved further South.

This forces many species to move out of these areas in search of adequate food sources.

Also of interest in irruptive birds,

Look for northern Owls (Great Gray Owls, Northern Hawk Owls, Snowy Owls and Boreal Owls).

With poor seed crops, voles and other important food sources for owls may crash

If this happens, Southern Canada and the Northern states may begin to see these owls of the boreal forests.

How far South will these irruptions occur?

No one really knows.

If you are fortunate enough to have some rare or strange visitors to your yard, you may want to report it to your Local Audubon chapter.

More importantly, is to enjoy the experience.

It may not happen for another 10 or more years.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"The manner in which it is given is worth more than the gift".

Pierre Corneille

"Even if it's a little thing, do something for those who need help, something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it".

Albert Schweitzer

Here is the true gift prophesied hundreds of years in advance.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9: 6-7

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb.

A Blessed week to you .

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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