Friday, February 20, 2015

Check those Pine Siskins Carefully.

The cold air streaming into our area the last ten days or so was accompanied by a massive irruption of pine siskins into the mountains and piedmont of the Carolinas. Backyard feeders have been inundated with as many as several hundred birds in some cases. If you have noticed a surge in bird numbers at your feeders you are certainly not alone.

A few pine siskins are fun. One hundred birds can put a serious crunch on your bird-feeding budget. They can consume pounds of sunflower seeds each day.

I say enjoy them. They are not here every year. It might be some years before they appear again in these numbers.

And of course, as with any huge influx of birds into an area, you should be on the lookout for the rarity that may be tagging along. Common redpolls, scarce birds in North Carolina, often ride the wave of siskins into a region. I received a photo of one from a mountain county just this week. Study the photos below to see if you are hosting the pine siskins or something way better. If you see a redpoll, let me know at

Pine siskins are tiny streaked birds with yellow wing markings that vary in intensity from individual to individual. This bird displays failrly prominent wing bars.

Pine Siskin by Jeff Lewis

And be sure to closely examine your siskin flock. A common redpoll might be among them. Note the yellow bill and the red patch confined to the top of the head. Finding one of these is possible but still a long shot. But they are here.
Common Redpoll with Pine Siskin by Jesse Dale