Here are five Pine Siskins at the thistle/ niger feeder with two of their finch cousins, American Goldfinches. Photos taken this morning around 9:30 a.m.
From Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds…
Flocks of tiny Pine Siskins may monopolize your thistle feeder one winter and be absent the next. This nomadic finch ranges widely and erratically across the continent each winter in response to seed crops. Better suited to clinging to branch tips than to hopping along the ground, these brown-streaked acrobats flash yellow wing markings as they flutter while feeding or as they explode into flight.
Very pointy beak for a finch.
Pine siskins are brown and very streaky birds with subtle yellow edgings on wings and tails.
Their Latin name is Pinus spinus.
Pine Siskins often visit feeders in winter (particularly for thistle or nyjer seed) or cling to branch tips of pines and other conifers, sometimes hanging upside down to pick at seeds below them. They are gregarious, foraging in tight flocks and twittering incessantly to each other, even during their undulating flight.
I am feeding them Wagner’s 62053 Nyjer Seed Bird Food from Amazon.
Every couple of years, Pine Siskins make unpredictable movements called irruptions into southern and eastern North America. Though they’re erratic, these movements may not be entirely random. Banding data suggest that some birds may fly west-east across the continent while others move north-south. For more, see this post from Project FeederWatch.
Pine Siskins get through cold nights by ramping up their metabolic rates—typically 40% higher than a “normal” songbird of their size. When temperatures plunge as low as –70°C (–94°F), they can accelerate that rate up to five times normal for several hours.
Pine Siskins can temporarily store seeds totaling as much as 10% of their body mass in a part of their esophagus called the crop. The energy in that amount of food could get them through 5–6 nighttime hours of subzero temperatures.
It was 8 degrees when I woke up at 5 a.m. It’s 20 now. A cold day, but obviously pine siskins can handle it!
(Autocorrect does not believe in the existence of pine siskins and wants to correct siskins to sissiness. How incorrect!)