Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pine Siskins of the Piney Woods

Would you have guessed that the Pine Siskin and the American Goldfinch are closely related?  For instance, look at their bills.  The Siskin has a thin and pointed bill while the Goldfinch has a bill that is conical.  The Siskin’s plumage makes it look more like a sparrow with all its streaking while the Goldfinch is brightly colored, especially breeding males.

 Both the Siskin and the goldfinches are members of the carduline finches.   Siskins are also related to the redpolls.  Carduline finches are among the smallest of finches and range in color from yellow and black to streaky brown.  Female carduline finches resemble non-distinct sparrows and wood warblers.
Pine Siskins often migrate in flocks where they mix with American Goldfinches. Both will come to feeders filled with either black oil sunflowers or with Nyjer. Pine Siskins can be identified by their forked tail, heavily streaked body, and a touch of yellow on their wing bars. Sometimes one must look hard to see this yellowish patch.

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