Birdwatching Canada

A voice for the northern birds

Featured Feathers: Siskins

Pine siskin

Pine siskin

Pine siskins are members of the Finch family, and are presently at my feeders in both the front and back yards. The name ‘siskin’ comes from the Scandinavian word for ‘a chirper.’

These little brown birds have prominent streakings of yellow at the base of the tail and in the flight feathers.They are about 4-5 inches high, with a wingspan of 7-8 inches. Finches are a gregarious lot, and siskins can often be found in mixed flocks of American goldfinches in the summer and redpolls in the winter.

Their calls are generally a raspy chittering. You may also hear a harsh, grating “zreeeeeeet” which gets higher towards the end.

Seed eating birds with stout conical bills, finches have large jaw muscles and powerful gizzards to deal with hard seeds. Their beaks are modified for holding and shelling seeds – a seed is wedged into a special groove at the side of the mouth and crushed by raising the lower jaw onto it. The husk is then peeled off with the tongue, releasing the kernel, which is then swallowed.

Pine siskins forage in flocks, usually high in the tree canopy, and often hang upside down on tips of conifers. Frequent visitors to backyard feeders, they are fond of niger thistle seed and are presently enjoying my shelled sunflower seeds. They also eat tree buds, insects and spiders.

They can be found across Canada, but nest in the western provinces and territories. Nests are a shallow saucer of twigs, grasses, leaves, weed stems, rootlets, bark strips, and lichens, lined with fur, feathers, grass, moss, or thistle down. Usually well concealed, the nests are placed near the end of a horizontal tree branch.


Filed under: Songbirds, , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: