Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I didn't know how little I knew this plain little bird. Every year I watch for the Pine Siskins, and almost every year, late in the migration or early in the winter I see one or two, or even a few. But that's not enough to learn a bird. I didn't know their flight call, I didn't know their song, I didn't even know how much they vary.

The finch forecast was dismal on the subject:
Pine Siskin

A conifer seed specialist in winter, most Pine Siskins should leave the province this fall because the spruce cone crop is poor in the boreal forest. It is uncertain whether the huge white pine seed crop will keep some Pine Siskins in central and northern Ontario this winter.
Well something has kept them in southern Ontario! Since the beginning of January there have been large flocks of Pine Siskins all over the place! Here's a story from Northumberland Today (Northumberland is basically next door to Hastings, home to thomasburg): Finches arriving in huge numbers

Here are some that dropped by in November of 2005. The ones around now have been too flighty for me to get an identifiable shot.

We've had a flock of thirty or more in the yard, at the feeders, every day for a couple of weeks now. So now I know: While many are drab, some have a surprising amount of yellow hidden under their wings and in their tails. I know their call, and I've even heard some singing. Now I finally know the Pine Siskin!