"I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven."
Emily Dickinson

Monday, November 16, 2015

Pine siskins are erratic winter visitors

A pine siskin.  Photo taken in Mission Viejo, CA on 11/15/15
A lesser goldfinch (left) seemingly checks out competition at the feeder by two pine siskins. Photos by J.J. Meyer

Unless you look closely, pine siskins can be mistaken as goldfinches.  Pine siskins are small songbirds with sharp, pointed bills and short, notched tails.  Their bills are thinner than other finches.  They have prominent brown streaking overall with bright yellow on wing bars and folded flight feathers. 

Pine siskins are considered irruptive, meaning their winter movements are erratic and depend partly on seed crops in northern North America.  About every other year, pine siskins irrupt, or move into central and even southern parts of the continent, but the timing and extent of these movements are extremely variable.  Flocks of pine siskins may monopolize your nyjer feeder one winter and be absent the next.  This nomadic finch ranges widely and erratically across the continent each winter in search of food. 

These gregarious birds often flock with goldfinches in winter.  Attract them to feeders with nyjer and other small seeds such as millet or hulled sunflower.  They also flock to plants with hardy seed heads and will occasionally eat suet.

Happy Birding!

No comments:

Post a Comment