About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Pine Siskin's most recognizable call is an upsweeping zzzzzziiip!

I've understood that Pine Siskins are supposed to be relatively common around here, but until the last year I never (knowingly) saw one.  Since then I saw them three other times, and I've been actively looking for them.... But now in the last few weeks I've seen them quite often.  Is this an unexpected bonus of leaving my feeders up later than I have in the past?
The Pine Siskin, a member of the finch family, is closely related to the Redpoll and the American Goldfinches. It is normal to see siskins in mid-Michigan from October until the end of May.

They are an irruptive species that can be common in mid-Michigan some winters and scarce in others. We had a lot of siskins come down south this winter because the seed crop was so bad in Canada last year. So it's not unusual to see the siskins this time of year, but the numbers are definitely up.

They eat mainly seeds, young buds, and some insects. In a part of their esophagus called the crop, the Pine Siskins can store up to 10% of their body weight in seeds that they will digest overnight, providing extra energy to survive in very cold temperatures.

They also can protect their young from cold with nests insulated heavily with thick plant materials. During the breeding season, females incubate their eggs and hatchlings continuously, while being fed by their male mate. Pine Siskins breed mostly in coniferous forests of the upper part of Michigan, Canada and at higher elevations further south.

I will miss their loud and cheerful "zzziip" song when they leave. (The word "Siskin" is of Scandinavian origin and means "chirper".)
pine-siskin call:

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