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May 12, 2012 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Pine Siskin

The Pine Siskin is a small finch with a short tail, long wings and a slender, sharply-pointed bill. Their coloring is heavily streaked with yellow on the wings. They are gregarious little birds that travel in flocks.

Pine Siskins usually visit my backyard feeders during the winter months when they migrate south from Canada in search of food. If food supplies are plentiful, they will stay in the pine forests in the north. This winter I saw quite a few of them but most headed back north last month.

Pine SiskinOne Pine Siskin is still hanging around my yard. I’ve seen him everyday this week. Eating at the sunflower and thistle feeders, playing in the bird bath and lounging in the apple tree.

They usually travel in flocks so I was surprised to find one on his own. Hopefully he didn’t miss the flight back and will be ok. He’s welcome to hang out in my yard this summer.

International Migratory Bird Day

Today is International Migratory Bird Day. I will be counting birds at a special event on a golf course today. Hopefully the weather will hold up, I’ll see lots of birds and get some great photos.

I will visit everyone’s photos later in the day after I recover from bird watching!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

© 2012 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.


Leave a Comment
  1. Elena / May 12 2012 3:29 am

    That is a lovely photo.


  2. Louise / May 12 2012 4:50 am

    I always learn so much from your weekend birding posts! I love that top photo- he’s such an attractive little fellow- looks more green and yellow in the picture- is that how it looks in reality? I hope he’s ok too. I didn’t know it was International Migratory Day, your count sounds a wonderful way to spend the day. I’d love to be involved in something like that one day, but need to learn a lot more about birds before I’d be any use.


    • Leslie / May 12 2012 3:44 pm

      A Pine Siskin shouldn’t have the green coloring. I think my camera didn’t get the white balance right. The structure in the background is greenish and that may have been the problem. I adjusted the color-cast and the tone looks a little better now.

      If you like birds and have a pair of binoculars you will do fine on a bird walk. We had people of varying skill levels on our walk today. One of the newer birders was excellent at sighting the birds even though she didn’t know what they were. She found a couple of birds that we would have otherwise missed.


  3. carol - DizzyC / May 12 2012 5:50 am

    I have missed you! 🙂

    I have been very busy and not connecting with my favourite blogs.
    Fabulous photos as ever. I do love your nature posts.

    Here is why I have been so busy



  4. Trish / May 12 2012 6:29 am

    Now there’s a bird I don’t think we have here in Ontario. Those speckled markings are quite striking!


    • storygal / May 12 2012 9:09 am

      I’m with Trish. I don’t remembe seeing a bird like this in southwestern Ontario.


    • Leslie / May 12 2012 4:16 pm

      Some years Pine Siskins migrate further south than others, but they can often be seen year-round in Ontario. The don’t usually hang out in backyards or parks. They prefer wooded areas. They will come to backyard feeders in the winter if they are enticed by food they like, ie thistle and sometimes sunflower seeds. Until I put up a thistle feeder for the goldfinches I never saw a Pine Siskin in my yard.


  5. diane / May 12 2012 6:39 am

    Love the yellow markings; great shot Leslie.


  6. Eugenia O'Neal / May 12 2012 6:40 am

    That’s a cute litte fellow! Maybe he’s just taking a break from the community.


  7. Mary / May 12 2012 6:46 am

    He is handsome – and he must prefer your hospitality to his friends’ company 😉


  8. Jayme@Beachreader / May 12 2012 7:03 am

    I always enjoy your photos. I wonder if we have one of these little guys hanging around?


    • Leslie / May 12 2012 4:37 pm

      The pine siskins have a fairly large and inconsistent migration range. If you put up a thistle feeder in the winter months they may show up at it some years. At the very least you’ll get goldfinches, they love thistle.


  9. Staci@LifeintheThumb / May 12 2012 7:07 am

    I love his coloring! I think he just really likes having all the amenities of your place to himself so he’s in no rush to head back with his fellow birds!!


    • Leslie / May 12 2012 4:53 pm

      I think so too. One of my bird baths is a little bubbling fountain and he was playing on the rocks there splashing around.


      • storygal / May 12 2012 6:32 pm

        Now that sounds like fun for a small bird– playing in a water fountain.


  10. Marie Burton (@BurtonReview) / May 12 2012 7:46 am

    You always get such fabulous photos! And offer a bit of an education to us silly folk, too! Thanks for sharing these! My Snapshot.


  11. laurelrainsnow / May 12 2012 8:06 am

    Great display of muted colors! Thanks for sharing….and enjoy your bird counting.



    • Leslie / May 12 2012 5:00 pm

      We ended up seeing 70 different species today which is excellent considering it rained most of the day. Unfortunately wasn’t able to get any photos. I didn’t want to risk the camera getting caught in a downpour.


  12. lisabutterybooks / May 12 2012 8:12 am



  13. Susan / May 12 2012 8:20 am

    I wonder if this is the bird (birds, actually) that have been flitting in and around our feeder this past week … I only got a quick look and thought they were goldfinches that were not wuite into their golden breeding colors … better get out my fieldglasses next time!


    • Leslie / May 12 2012 5:14 pm

      It’s possible. I asked a few others at the birdwalk today if they still had siskins and a few people said they had some stopping by their feeders.


  14. BermudaOnion / May 12 2012 8:58 am

    It looks like he’s posing for you!


  15. storygal / May 12 2012 9:11 am

    It’s like reading an Audubon book about birds when I see your photos and learn about birds. Thank you. I’ve missed the past few weeks. Guess I can go back and look at earlier posts.


    • Leslie / May 12 2012 5:18 pm

      Nice to have you back. Last week was a red-tailed hawk that landed on the ground. I walked right up to him, a first for me!


      • storygal / May 12 2012 6:19 pm

        I went back to see the red-tailed hawk photos from last week. How close did you get to the bird?

        Also love the blossoms on the redwood tree. Beautiful!


      • Leslie / May 12 2012 8:01 pm

        At one point I was about 10 feet / 3 meters from him. He was interested in something he saw in the tree and didn’t care that I was there. Then he walked into a bushy area before flying to another tree. All the while the little birds were chirping and harassing him. I just love observing nature in action.


  16. cherylmahoney / May 12 2012 9:14 am

    Aww, I hope he didn’t lose his flock. Though he’d be a cute little guy to have hanging around through the summer!


  17. Alyce (@AtHomeWithBooks) / May 12 2012 10:30 am

    That bird counting event sounds like a lot of fun! He is a very cute bird and for some reason I love the name “pine siskin.”


  18. Suko / May 12 2012 12:28 pm

    What a cutie! Seems he wanted to be counted! Happy International Migratory Bird Day–have fun counting our feathered friends.


  19. mostraum / May 12 2012 12:40 pm

    Love his subtle coloring and hope he’ll be ok. I’ve spent the day at a golf course too, but didn’t do much bird watching… I hope you had fun.


    • Leslie / May 12 2012 8:04 pm

      I can’t golf, I’m terrible at it. So I have to settle for watching the birds and the golfers!


  20. sim@chapter1-take1 / May 12 2012 1:46 pm

    A Pine Siskin? I never heard of it; I didn’t know it was International Migratory Bird day … I wonder if there will be a lot of folks near our creeks. We have a couple of strays – big beautiful white birds with long necks and bright yellow beaks – hanging around the water!


  21. irene / May 12 2012 2:10 pm

    I have never seen these birds here, in Canada. I’ll be watching more carefully. Happy birding.


    • Leslie / May 13 2012 7:12 pm

      They come to the thistle and sunflower feeders in the winter. In the summer they tend to stay in the wooded areas. If you don’t have a feeder you might not see them.


  22. dyane / May 12 2012 2:36 pm

    They are at my feeder now so I think that guy missed the tour


  23. Amy Peveto (@AmyPeveto) / May 12 2012 3:46 pm

    Of course he’s hanging around at your place. There’s food, a bird bath, and an apple tree to laze around in. I’d take that over migrating any day! 🙂

    Here’s my Saturday Snapshot for this week.


  24. Paulita / May 12 2012 6:35 pm

    He is lovely. We had a goldfinch on the wire today, but this finch looks more gold and ours looked more yellow. It’s always startling to see the brightly colored birds flitting around. Here’s Mine


  25. Bev@My Reader's Block / May 12 2012 8:31 pm

    Love the dappled pattern on his feathers! And so good to see your bird picture postings again!

    Here’s my Snapshot.


  26. Marie / May 14 2012 8:13 am

    Terrific photos! I love pine siskins. It was one of the first birds I could identify easily. We usually have masses of them at the feeders. I don’t know exactly when they show up, but you know when they’ve been there. All of a sudden the nyger seed is gone. 😉


    • Leslie / May 14 2012 10:06 am

      Between the pine siskins and the goldfinches they empty out my feeder in no time! And it’s so cute to see 7 or 8 of them hanging on it at the same time.


  27. Carol / May 16 2012 1:47 pm

    What a cute little one.

    I always take down our birdfeeders in the summer, figuring they get plenty to eat from our garden and berry bush. Should be leaving them up?


    • Leslie / May 17 2012 2:14 am

      True, they do have a lot of natural food in the summer. I leave them up for a few reasons. It gives tired parents a place to go for some fast food after a day of hunting for insects for the nestlings and after the little ones fledge the parents often bring them to the feeder and I get to see the babies. That’s how I got the shots of the little sparrow. The dad brought two of them to the feeder tray and then they started exploring my deck and mini-pond.


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