Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Goldfinch & Pine Siskin Party

dscf4685

It’s remarkable. North Carolina hasn’t reported so many Goldfinches and Pine Siskins since the mid-nineties. This year, both birds are ruling backyard bird feeders.

dscf4954

It’s also remarkable that two out of every three days this winter have been cloudy and colder than normal in this otherwise consistently sunny state.

dscf4762

A backyard birder south of the city reports one hundred Siskins at a time, every day, all day. There are about two dozen here and I might need to find a part-time job to afford to feed them. The bird traffic here is astounding this winter. The wonder is, “why?”

dscf4668

If they can’t find a spot on a thistle feeder, they go for the black oil sunflower. Unusual.

I also heard there are many Evening Grosbeaks and Purple Finches in our area. My binoculars are ready! And, do I dare suggest I might have a male Purple Finch on that hopper above? Wrong again?

dscf4693


dscf4766

It’s a pleasure to watch the Pine Siskins every day. They don’t scare easily while feeding so I’m able to get a good look at them. Although they’re pretty and plentiful, I must note my special fondness for the Goldfinches.

dscf4952

If birds can be courteous, they are. Goldfinches wait for a spot at the feeders,


dscf4619

rather than bullying their way through the crowd like some others.

They have a calm, quiet, and sweet beauty about them.

dscf4692

They aren’t camera shy, either. I like that!

Ok, that’s enough on Goldfinches and Pine Siskins until next season…promise.

45 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I love to hear about your pine siskins and goldfinches.

The goldfinches are beginning to show a little bit of their summer color.

Pine siskins are such fun birds. I usually don't see them except during fall. A few stop by going south I guess.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

We have snow today and goldfinches in abundance. They are so brave and eat from the window feeder with the cat sitting right on the window sill. So cute!

Your pictures are amazing! They are so clear!

Kallen305 said...

Such wonderful close up pictures. You really captured the yellow on both the siskins and goldfinches. Lovely!

Lynne said...

May- your pictures are so sharp, they hurt my eyes!
;)

mon@rch said...

I could never have enough Siskins! LOVE THE PHOTOS!

Margaret said...

I've never heard of a Siskin. Must be a Southern bird?
My favorite thing about the Gold finches is the way they fly. They dip and rise like they're riding a wave.

jane augenstein said...

Ahhh, Mary!!! Your pictures are stunning, excellent work! :-)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures Mary! Now that you mention it I have had a lot of pine siskins and goldfinches also.

Angie

Corey said...

I think your red finch is a House Finch.

I always wondered if I was seeing Purple Finches, because the pictures in the books all look so similar. Then one day I saw a male Purple Finch, and I thought to myself "Self, nobody who's ever wondered if it was a Purple Finch has ever actually seen a Purple Finch". Did you get that?

What I'm saying is, when you see one, you'll really know it.

Mary said...

Corey, I know, I know. I've been told the same thing a dozen times but I still keep hoping :o)

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Mary, You take the BEST pictures--so clear and close. I love your Goldfinch. And of course I love the Pine Siskins since we have lots of them also.

Hope you have had a wonderful day..
Hugs,
Betsy

Kathleen said...

Okay, spill! How do you get those amazing shots? Your photos are gorgeous!

I adore everything about goldfinches! Special creatures, they are.

Robert V. Sobczak said...

Your photos are out of this world, as usual. (Are you paying those birds to pose?!?!?!). Side note: does Kilgore Falls ring a bell? It's just down the road from Eden Mill.

dAwN said...

Not fair that I have to wait another season to see more siskins and gold finchs...I am hoping you change your mind..
i love that close up of the siskin with the yellow shouting out of its wings..

JeanMac said...

As usual, your pictures are great.

Vickie said...

I don't think I can get enough about them, Mary. Your photos are awesome. I am only feeding sunflower seeds right now and getting pine siskins, goldfinches, house finches and purple finches. The pine siskins and purple finches are both new birds for me. But I do love the sweet little goldfinch!

Toni said...

Mary Lovely photos. I get goldfinches and house finches but no pine siskins or purple finches.

Love seeing the goldfinches starting to get their summer color in your photos.

KatDoc said...

Sorry, Mary, still a House Finch. As Corey says, when you finally see a Purple Finch, there will be no doubt. Beautiful pics, as always.

When you are trying to decide between House and Purple Finches, don't look at the shade of red. Look at the flanks and belly for streaking. Any streaks at all, even faint ones, and your bird is a HOFI. Purple Finches have clear, unmarked sides and bellies.

Margaret:
Pine Siskins come from way up north, in the boreal forest. Years when the seed crop fails, they come south for the winter. This year has been a remarkable one for Pine Siskins, also crossbills, redpolls and others. This is termed an "irruptive" year.

More on Pine Siskins here: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Pine_Siskin.html

~Kathi

Ruth said...

Nice to see birds crowding your feeders again. I bet you will not be able to resist another Goldfinch picture ;-). They will get prettier and prettier toward spring.

Kerri said...

Great shots Mary! I LOVE the goldfinches....the looks so SWEET!

jason said...

Exceptional photos, Mary! Now that's a party I wish I could have attended.

KGMom said...

I need a few of those polite birds. All the birds at our feeders seem to be most territorial.
I must admit, the aerial battles are fun to watch.
My seeds--no, mine.

Dog_geek said...

We've had huge numbers of goldfinches this year, with a fair number of pine siskins mixed in. We've even added two additional thistle seed feeders - like you were saying, I think one of us is going to have to get a second job to pay for all the birdseed. (I hope it's Mr. Geek.)

Appalachian Lady said...

I don't think I've any pine siskins but maybe I need to look closer. I counted about 75 birds at the feeder yesterday morning--mostly goldfinches. Great photos.

Richard said...

Sorry Mary. it is a male House Finch. He sure has on his breeding colors early. I quick way to tell the difference between the male House and Purple Finch is the belly stripes. House has them...Purple doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Mary you can write about Goldfinches and Pine Siskins any time. Love the pictures.

NCmountainwoman said...

I'm so glad the siskin mob has moved to your house. They partied here for far too long.

Can't believe the yellow your goldfinches have. Ours have yet to change at all. I can't wait!

Susan Gets Native said...

You WILL know a purple finch when you see one. They are dipped-in-raspberry finches.

Love that pic of the goldfinch getting the "bunny ears" from the other finch higher up!

Iris said...

Def a house finch. Berries are in such abundance in NC this winter that the house finches are extra berry-colored and easily confused for purple finches at a a distance. Purple finches are burly buggers--you'll know it when you see it!

Re an earlier comment: Siskins are northern birds that occasionally irrupt down South. Having a BIG irruption this winter!

I've got nothing but siskins and goldfinches lately. And gloomy clouds, so few photos. Glad to have yours to enjoy instead!

A New England Life said...

Everyone seems to be talking about Pine Siskins lately. Is that because you usually don't see them in the summertime? This winter is the first time I've EVER seen them! I'll have to get my thistle feeder out, though somehow I doubt they will show. There's not enough protection for them to hide.

Don't you just love the call of the Goldfinches in the Summer? Their squeaks and chips as they fly through the air or sit waiting their turn to eat. Two very lovely birds and apparently good friends : )

RuthieJ said...

That's cool Mary! I hope you get to see the Evening Grosbeaks too--they're one gorgeous birdie!
(and I'll tell you why they've all headed south--because it's so freakin' cold in Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and Michigan, yeah, well you get the idea!)

Tina said...

We recently noticed an increase of all three types of birds at our feeders The siskins, goldfinch and housefinches probably dominate the backyardc feeders most of the day!! Such lovely shots of that goldfinch..it looks so serene...waiting his turn!

Wendy said...

They're beautiful! I think you just might need another job to feed all those critters. LOL!

Steve B said...

It is so cool to have good feeder birds. Thanks for sharing.

Annie in Austin said...

You caught the goldfinch and pine siskins beautifully, Mary! The siskins were reported a few miles from here and I hope to see one, but I don't think a real life look could be as good as seeing them in your photos.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Mona said...

I have always owned birds, but there is nothing like watching them in the wild. I also have a feeder just outside the window. I always wonder about the birds when I hear of the horrific storms that are hitting the east. Beautiful photo's! Just beautiful!
Mona

Red said...

What do you mean that's it? They were so cute and such wonderful pics! The pine siskin was great because the guidebook and online it's hard to pick them apart from female house finches... in your pics it was clear!

beckie said...

What glorious potos! Thanks Mary fo making my day brighter.

Mary C said...

Mary, you and your new camera seem to know how to capture your birds at just the right time and place. Love those close-ups.

Cheryl said...

You can post as many times as you like Mary....I love to see your birds......and I agree the goldfinch is lovely.....they look a sweet and gentle bird......

Larry said...

I wondered if I had a male Purple Finch at my feeder whener I would see a House Finch until I was able to actually see one.-The females have that wide white eyebrow that makes them easy to pick out.I agree with your opinion about Goldfinches-they go about the business of eating in an admirable way.

Anonymous said...

I haven't decided what is feeding on our thistle sack. I thought it was winter coloring on goldfinches, but a few of the birds are the size of goldfinches, only with a shiny dark red cap right at the top of the head, and a small red moon on the throat. They are too small to be redpolls, and not enough rose in the front to be purple finches. Ideas?

Mary said...

Anon,

You didn't leave a location but I received this from a friend:

It must be a redpoll -- according to my Kaufman field guide, their size is listed as 5" (exactly the same as the goldfinch). I can't think of any other small birdie that would have the red cap and red throat Anonymous is referring to.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure anymore about it being a redpoll, as their isn't the red spread on the chest; these birds are very splotched with stripes, have a white stripe on wing, deeply notched tail, light colored beak, black feet, and a little scooped black bib. These birds are thin, and the redpolls I used to see were always fatter like chickadees are. They will hang 6 at a time on the suet sacks.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is from Minneapolis suburbs, Minnesota.