The Pine Siskin
, Carduelis pinus
, is a small finch
Adults are brown on the upperparts and pale on the underparts, with heavy streaking throughout. They have a short forked tail. They have yellow patches in their wings and tail, not always visible; otherwise, it appears to be a very small streaked sparrow
Distribution and habitat
Their breeding habitat is across Canada
and the western mountains and northern parts of the United States
. The nest is well-hidden on a horizontal branch of a tree, often a conifer
Migration by this bird is highly variable, probably related to food supply. Large numbers may move south in some years; hardly any in others.
These birds forage in trees, shrubs and weeds. They mainly eat seeds, plant parts and some insects. In winter, they often feed in mixed flocks including American Goldfinches
Small seeds, especially thistle, red alder, birch, and spruce seeds, make up the majority of the Pine Siskin's diet. In summer, they will eat insects, especially aphids, which they feed to the young, but seeds dominate their diet.
Although considered Washington's most common finch, the Pine Siskin has suffered a significant annual decline in population since 1966, according to the Breeding Bird Survey. Due to the irruptive nature of this species, populations vary widely from year to year, and trends can be difficult to interpret. Parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds can have a significant impact on Pine Siskin productivity, and forest fragmentation has increased their contact with cowbirds. Maintaining large tracts of coniferous forest will help keep this bird common.
Interesting Pine Siskin Facts
• The name Siskin is derived from its sound or chirp. Thus, this bird’s common name is really “pine chirper”
• Pine Siskins are very social birds. They will build nests adjacent to each other, with only a few feet in between them.
• When eating from conifers, the Pine Siskin usually hangs upside down from the tips of the trees.
- Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
- Interesting Pine Siskin Facts donated by BirdHouses101.com
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