Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Early Winter Visitors

Because I almost never plan any of my blog posts ahead of time, some days I have no idea what I'm going to post about and those are the days when I get my best inspiration. Today as I happened to glance out the window at the thistle seed feeder on the deck, I noticed some little brown-streaked birds that were way too small to be house finches. When I grabbed the binoculars for a better look, sure enough, they were Pine Siskins!

I thought I saw some on Saturday when I was hanging some laundry out to dry, but didn't get a close enough look to be sure.

Here's the photographic confirmation that Pine Siskins are in my yard (yard bird number 52). I haven't had Pine Siskins here for several years, but according to my migration chart, they're right on time by arriving in the third week of October.

What a cute little bird. The yellow wing markings show up pretty good in this picture, and you can kind of see a little bit of the yellow under the tail also. I hope they stay around for the winter.


Lynne said...

I saw my first ever pine siskin last weekend up at Hasty Brook and I've heard they're beeing seen around the Cities. Nice photos Ruthie!

RuthieJ said...

Have you heard anything about them Lynne? Do you think it's the same deal as with the red-breasted nuthatches that their food supplies up north are dwindling because of drought? And that's why we're seeing more of them and earlier than previous years?

Deb said...

Siskins! I have not seen any of them around here in my somewhat boreal habitat! Lucky you! But I do have plenty of RB nuthatches.

mon@rch said...

such a wonderful bird and I sure hope they make it to my back yard here soon!

Mary C said...

Hi Ruthie - oh I sure hope I see pine siskins here later this winter. I haven't seen them for a couple years. They sure are cute little birds. They do blend in with the finches, too. But I love watching all three species (house finch, lesser goldfinch, and pine siskin) at the nyjer feeders during the winter months.

Maud said...

They are cute!

Jennifer said...

both red-breasted nuthatches and pine siskins are irruptive species. That means they won't be at your feeders every year. They seem to "know" which years the pines will produce many seeds in your area and winter with you only then. Are your pines full of cones this year?

Jennifer said...

See if you can go to this link. It's pretty cool. Shows pine siskins populations over 20 years of Project Feederwatch data. You'll see the populations pop up in the west sometimes, then in the east... It's cool.


Jayne said...

Cool Ruthie! My first thought was house finches too until I saw the wing markings. Great shots! Very neat visitor! Send them on down my way? :c)

RuthieJ said...

Hi Deb,
I was surprised to see them too. Have you had any unusual or early winter bird visitors in your boreal habitat?

Hi Mon@rch,
I bet they're on their way to your habitat too.

Hi Mary C,
I just checked my field guide and was surprised to learn that pine siskins are winter visitors for almost the entire US, so maybe many people will be spotting them at their feeders soon!

Hi Maud,
They're pretty social too--not quite as shy as the goldfinches; I was able to take this picture from right close to the window and they didn't fly away.

Hi Jennifer,
I haven't been paying much attention to my evergreens this year...I'll go out and check on my pinecone crop after work. Any kind of pinecones? I have Black Hills & blue spruce, white pine, and Norway pine.

You also reminded me that Project FeederWatch starts in about a month and I'm not sure if I've gotten my renewal confirmation from them yet. Thanks

Hi Jayne,
House finches was exactly what I thought too, but then realized they were much too small. I hope you get some too--looks like they are winter visitors in all of Georgia except the southernmost third.

Mary said...

I'm always bringing up the rear.

I would have easily mistaken them for finches. Great photos, Ruthie. Now I will start paying more attention to similar-looking birds. I'd like to see them here.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mare,
You should think of it as more "getting in the last word!" I hope you see some siskins too this winter. They really love the nyjer seed.

Carolyn H said...

Great luck on your siskins! I've already had red-breasted nuthatch, but no siskins yet, unfortunately. I keep hoping, though!

Carolyn H.

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

So THAT'S a pine siskin? I believe I may have those in my yard too, but never identified them.

Yet another reason to read your blog. Thanks Ruthie.

--Robin (Bumblebee)

Ruth said...

Thanks for sharing. I wouldn't have known what they were. I will have to keep my eyes open around here too.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Carolyn,
I bet it won't be long before you're seeing the pine siskins at your feeders too!

Hi Robin,
You're welcome....I bet you do have them also. They're almost always in flocks, so if you see one, you'll probably see at least 3 or 4, if not more.

Hi Ruth,
I always think of pine siskins as a northern bird, but looks like this is the year they've headed south to our region again. I'd better stock up on some more Nyjer seed!

Larry said...

That's great!I hope I get some at my feeders this year-it's supposed to be a good year for finches in CT.-The first time I saw Siskins, I thought they were female House Finches.

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

I've seen Pine Siskins and more Evening Grosbeaks than ever and have been outwardly hoping for a strong irruptive year of winter finches. Everything I'm seeing in other blogs seems to suggest it! Yeah!