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Merlin Bird ID

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    Pine Siskin

    Silhouette FinchesFinches

    Pine Siskin

    Spinus pinus
    • ORDER: Passeriformes
    • FAMILY: Fringillidae
    Basic Description

    Flocks of tiny Pine Siskins may monopolize your thistle feeder one winter and be absent the next. This nomadic finch ranges widely and erratically across the continent each winter in response to seed crops. Better suited to clinging to branch tips than to hopping along the ground, these brown-streaked acrobats flash yellow wing markings as they flutter while feeding or as they explode into flight. Flocks are gregarious, and you may hear their insistent wheezy twitters before you see them.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for Pine SiskinRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    Spot Pine Siskins clinging to the ends of conifer branches, even upside down, to feed at cones—or look for an exceptionally streaky, small-billed finch at your feeder. Also, listen for a distinctive, harsh "watch-winding" call (also likened to the sound of slowly tearing a sheet of paper in two) amidst their constant flock twitters. Over much of the continent, Pine Siskins can be abundant one winter and gone the next.

    Other Names
    • Jilguerito Pinero (Spanish)
    • Tarin des pins (French)

    Backyard Tips

    Pine Siskins flock to thistle or nyjer feeders and other small seeds such as millet or hulled sunflower seeds. They may hang around whole sunflower seed feeders if heavier-billed birds are messy eaters and drop seed bits. If your yard has plants or weeds with hardy seed heads, such as dandelion, Pine Siskins may feed there as well. They will occasionally eat suet. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

    • Cool Facts