Pine Sisking beside Morrison Creek

Pine Siskins right side up, upside down and everything in between. Photo by K Clouston

These busy little birds seem to be much more common in winter, probably because there is so little competition for attention, but also because birds from further North come down to join them.  However, they are year round residents and can be seen, though not as easily, in the summer.  They travel in swarms, flock just doesn’t seem to cover it, and can usually be found by following their chatter which ends with a quick zziip, zziip, like zippers being pulled.  Siskins like to eat seeds, especially of birch, alder and spruce but are easily attracted to feeders although they are still hard to study since they never stay still for long.  Like the Golden-crowned Kinglet, they have yellow on their wings and sometimes on their tails, but unlike the Kinglet they do not have a black mask.  They are also a little larger, about the size of a sparrow with the streaking that I always thinks of as sparrow-like but the yellow sets them apart.  The males have more and brighter yellow than the female or juvenile but otherwise there is little difference between the sexes.  Siskins build nests, usually toward the end of conifer branches with 3-4 greeny-blue, darkly spotted eggs that hatch after a couple of weeks.

Pine Siskin near Morrison Creek

Pine Siskin in Bitter Cherry tree. Photo by K Clouston