A mostly boring and cold day, with the highlight being some common redpolls we saw on the southern end of the East Lagoon. Redpolls are special birds that nest far north in the arctic and are adaptive to living in cold climates. However, because they are so well adapted to the cold, their need to migrate is not driven directly by the seasons. They instead exhibit a phenomenon called irruptive migration. This when their migratory behavior is driven by food supply. When there is a lot of food, the birds are able to sustain themselves and multiply in their Canadian habitats. But, when food becomes scarce, individuals are forced to wander south into the Northern US. Most irruptive migrants are either seed-eaters or predators, and include species like redpolls, crossbills, waxwings, siskins, snowy owls, rough-legged hawks, etc., etc. While irruption years are not great for birds, as they often have to travel thousands of miles away from their home to find food, they are a great opportunity for birders to see new species. While early reports indicate that this year could be an irruption year, irruptive migration often brings birds to New England and to the west, rather than to the Great Lakes region. Nevertheless, those redpolls suggest that irruptive migrations may bring us some rare sightings this year.
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