Friday, May 22, 2009

Late Spring Time Visitor

This cute little bird is the Pine Siskin, which is a type of finch. They are a winter visitor to Missouri, having migrated from up north in Canada and the Northern United States. When I first noticed this bird and took its picture I thought it was a sparrow. It wasn't until I pulled the photos off the camera that I noticed the yellow on the wing tips and the dark streaking on its belly and wings. This told me it definitely wasn't a sparrow and I was sure it wasn't a goldfinch as I was quite familiar with them. I ended up sending these pictures to a bird expert I know name Larry Lade. He is a master birder and identified my little visitor as the Pine Siskin and also told me I was fortunate to still be seeing one this late in the season as most have already headed back north to their breeding grounds. This picture was taken May 17, and today on the 22nd I still have 2 in my yard visiting the feeders. I am beginning to wonder if they will stay all season. This was also the first time for me to ever see this species so I was pretty excited. I know in the winter they will mix with flocks of goldfinches and come to feeders in large numbers. I get hundreds of goldfinches but had not ever noticed this species among them. Appears I will have to look closer next winter. These are a gregarious species and often stay together even during breeding season. It is not uncommon for them to even visit each others nests. Occassionally if there is steady food source nearby they will nest far south of their normal range, which is what I hope my two little visitors will eventually do. They feed on small seeds, or black oil sunflower seeds from backyard feeders, tree buds, insects and spiders. Their population seems to be steady, but it may be falling in some areas. I hope to see more of these in the future.

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