Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Streaky Underside of the Pine Siskin

A while back I got some shots of a pine siskin at the thistle seed feeder, taken from inside the house. The angle is a bit unusual but lets you see the marked streakiness of the siskin's underside.

In the photo below you can see a hint of the yellowish streak on the wing. As I've noted before, the pine siskin is one of the "irruptive winter finches," meaning that in a given area some years it may be present in large numbers but other years not at all.

While these birds usually breed to our north, and most of the northward migration (if birds are present that year) takes place in April, Robert B. Janssen's Birds in Minnesota (we have the 1987 edition) notes it has been confirmed as breeding in Rice County. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology notes:
Following a large irruptive winter flight, some individuals may stay near a dependable food source and breed far south of the normal breeding range.
 It looks as if we're going to lose much of our snow cover in the next week, with daytime temperatures in the 40s and 50s and nighttime lows staying above freezing. As the snow retreats it'll be interesting to see how soon we start to lose our winter birds like the pine siskins, dark-eyed juncos and red-breasted nuthatches that have brought us so much viewing pleasure this winter..


Tom Hayes, the Synergist said...

Great pictures, sharp and close.

Mary S. said...

These are especially good photos. Lots of detail.

Unknown said...

Update: As of late April, we are still seeing pine siskins at the feeders.

Larry said...

Nice butt shots of the Pine Siskin Penelope! I just assumed they were streaked down there too.

We have many Pine Siskins still at our feeders and it has been in the 70's of late, possibly the 80's today. I didn't realize that they breed here in northern California.