- Pine Siskins are small, light brown and buff finches with prominent dark streaking. If you look closely you can see a touch of yellow at the base of their tail and in their flight feathers.
- You can attract them with a finch feeder filled with niger (thistle) seed or with a mixture of thistle and fine sunflower chips. Siskins have difficulty opening the large seeds of striped sunflower but will readily eat black oil sunflower seeds or sunflower chips (no shells).
- Siskins are also attracted to road salt so you may seem them on plowed and salted roads.
- Pine siskins are one of the finches that are called "winter finches." Other winter finches include red crossbills, redpolls, evening grosbeaks, and pine grosbeaks.
- Flocks of Pine Siskins may be heard before they are seen. Listen for their cheerful "zzzzzziiippp" calls.
- Pine siskins may be seen all across North America during the winter months.
- They breed in the forests of Alaska, Canada and the northeastern states but is an uncommon breeder in New York.
- Pine Siskins can pack sufficient seeds into their crops to support themselves through five hours of rest at temperatures below -4 degrees.
- The Pine Siskin’s erratic winter visits to the United States occur mainly in years when the seed crops of hemlocks, alders, birches and cedars have failed in the boreal forests. So, in some years they show up in large numbers, while in others they may not make an appearance at all.
- When they do arrive, they mix in with flocks of goldfinches at niger feeders. They also commonly flock with Common Redpolls.
- Pine Siskins seem prone to an avian disease known as Salmonellosis. This bacterial infection is often fatal and is primarily transmitted by fecal contamination of food and water or from bird-to-bird contact.
Photos provided by WBU, Inc.
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