|"THE MOB" AT THE FEEDER...|
|...PINE SISKINS ARE VERY SIMILAR IN APPEARANCE TO WINTER-PLUMAGE GOLDFINCHES|
Friday, 10:00 AM. 16 degrees F at the ferry dock, 15 on the back porch. Wind W with moderate gusts. The sky has a high overcast, and the humidity is 69%. The barometer is rising, now at 29.88", presaging a partly cloudy day tomorrow. We got three or four inches of icy snow last night, that made walking a little treacherous.
The mob visited us yesterday. They didn't smoke cigars, wear diamond rings and threaten to break our kneecaps; only to empty our feeder of sunflower seeds. Since mobs of pine siskins only occasionally muscle in on our action, we don't overly react. They will soon be gone, and they do provide some entertainment, like a 1930's Class B mob movie.
Pine siskins are diminutive finches, perhaps a bit smaller than a goldfinch (4.5"-5.5" in length), and appearing very similar in winter garb. Birds of the far north, as their name implies, their main sustenance is pine seeds, and they live very much in association with pine forests. They of course consume other seeds, and insects as well, but they are probably attracted to our feeders because of their close proximity to large pine trees.
Pine siskins travel in flocks, particularly in winter, and they can empty my feeder in short order on a really cold day. They are very fickle in their habits, arriving unexpectedly and infrequently; some winters we see them not at all, as their winter range is large and uncertain. They are quite entertaining as they jostle each other for a prime spot at the feeder. Other birds seem to leave in disgust at their behavior, and return only when the siskins have left.
Looking, as they do, so much like their close relatives the goldfinches, we have learned to identify them mainly by their mobster behavior.