Originating in the foothills of the Rockies they have moved east and were noted in the 1850's around Toronto and have since spread. They are members of the finch family and tend to prefer coniferous forests although they will now settle happily into mixed forests. They are attracted to forests with spruce bud worm problems as they are a natural predator of the the bud worm.
The english name is somewhat forced as they are not creatures of the evening. Rather, the french name is much better, en francais: Le gros-bec errant or the large beaked wanderer which describes their habits. In an especially bad outbreak of spruce bud worm in the Maritimes there were huge numbers attracted by the insect. But after spraying few remained.
The above probably accounts for their presence here. It is a regenerating primarily coniferous forest, although
with lots of soft and now some young hardwood trees. There is also a spruce bud worm problem.Suprisingly enough they also like salt and gravel so you will find flocks on the roads.
Not only is the female attractive, although the male with those yellow horns is more so, but in the summer the beak will turn green, and they sit in the spruce trees so the green beak completes their camouflage. The colourful plumage is also,then, natures' protection.
All these facts are from the the Cdn Web publication "Who's Who In The Hinterland".
A post to World Bird Wednesday.