Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

November 29, 2010

Pine Siskins are back!

It hit approximately +7c this afternoon and the sun was shining. A wonderful day for the second last day of November I must say!

I got home from work and right after I got the coffee on, took Meadow outside to enjoy this fantastic afternoon. She's gotten a little fussy when it comes to weather over the past couple years. I remember when she was 2 years old and it could be -30c outside and she'd join me outside at 1am to fill the feeders for the morning visitors and have a blast the whole time out there. Nowadays (she's 7), she just isn't so keen on cooler weather.

There's quite a few birds buzzing around this afternoon. A pair of Cardinals, one Downy Woodpecker, a Blue Jay, four Chickadees, probably a dozen Finches (Gold and House) and those darn Pigeons.

In the mix of all the sounds, I heard a different sound, and one I have not heard in a couple years. Instantly I knew what it was (Pine Siskin) but wanted a visual to be absolutely positively certain. And sure enough, about 10 minutes later of me standing quite still, I had my visual ID of two Pine Siskins buzzing around the back of the yard amongst the Gold and House Finches.

Pine Siskins are a part of the Finch family; but we seldom see them in the Toronto area. I know little of these birds and have only had them one other winter season since doing the backyard bird feeding thing going almost a decade ago. They call it an "irruption" when they spread out this far and even further; flying in from the Boreal Forests. It's something about a mix between a population explosion and a shortage of food (little rain this past spring/summer and high heat to blame) in their more common areas. I also think they know when a bad winter is coming because the last time I saw them, that winter was a doozy, and we had a lot of snow.

So, while I am excited about their return and I do hope they hang around the yard for the season; I have my fears on old man winter getting nasty on us since the past one had so little snow. Really I don't mind the snow but the drive to and from work across that Hwy 401 is a scary one in bad weather. If I could stay home on such days, no problem.

Today I only saw two. My peak the last time this species was here brought 12 to 15 at a time and maybe more. They love nyjer seed much like the other Finches do, so I best be well stocked, and have extra feeders out. I do recall them enjoying the black oil sunflower also.

So, welcome back little Pine Siskins! May you enjoy your stay on Bernice Crescent!

The Pine Siskin is the bird on the top left perch of this feeder. They have some similar markings on their backside much like the American Goldfinch with the yellow wing bars but are very streaky and much more brown with little yellow tints as you can see in this photo (sides and tail).


socurly said...

Great information Rob. I will look for them in my yard. I have put Nyjer seed out but it seems to go uneaten and eventually rotten.What am I doing wrong?
All things point to a severe winter for us. I am making sure I keep my backyard buddies are well fed. We have even gone so far as to give our red squirrels warm fuzzy things for their winter bed! Hopefully she will stop stripping the fleece out of our barbeque cover. She has been feverishly hoarding material anf food in our wood pile.(They know it's going to be a hard winter). Someone in my neighbourhood is missing some socks, candles and lime wedges! Rob, you would love these little guys!

Teena in Toronto said...

That's cool that you still have feathered friends showing up.

Rob said...

Socurly... tie a little bit of bright yellow ribbon around your nyjer feeder. Or, as I use, bright yellow electric tape (I got it at Dollarama). The yellow will draw in the Goldfinches. I had over 30 of them in the backyard this afternoon (Dec. 12).

I haven't seen any Siskins for a bit though.

I laugh at your Squirrel stories. Enjoy the little red ones. We only see them in the woods near here but not around the houses.

Teena, the feathered will be here long after I am gone (I hope).

socurly said...

Thanks Rob, I will try the yellow ribbon.
I have tried to get my son to post some squirrel blogs....I hope we get it together soon. I hope I don't hijack your blog with my stories but not too many people want to hear about my squirrels. My mother says I spend too much time watching them. But squirrels are sometimes more fun than people! Last night my husband put up christmas lights in the backyard again. Every year the squirrels steal his lights....he never learns. We also put a decorative 2 foot giant christmas bulb in the display. It's an inside joke!
Thanks for taking the time to blog.