Have you been wondering what that other bird on your thistle feeder is? If you look up Pine Siskin in your bird book, you’ll find it there. Pine Siskins (Carduelis pinus) are small, dark, heavily streaked finches with deeply notched tails and sharply pointed bills. You may also see a touch of yellow on their wings and at the base of their tails. We do not often see them this far south, however seed crop failures in their usual winter range to the north sometimes push them into our area.
They breed from portions of Alaska and Canada, south to northern Baja California, central highlands of Mexico, Kansas, Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. They are found in forests and woodlands and in the parks, gardens and yards of suburban areas. Their diet consists of seed and insects. As you’ve probably noticed, in the fall and winter they travel in flocks (often 50 to 200 birds).
More than one customer has commented that Pine Siskins are not shy. They’re surprised by how close they can get to the feeder before the feisty little birds fly off. They’re not shy about eating either. Between them and the goldfinch, it is not easy to keep those thistle feeders full.
Enjoy their presence at your feeders now. Unfortunately we probably will not see them next year.
Some information for this blog post came from the following sources –
Peterson Field Guides – Eastern Birds