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Irruption Year For Pine Siskins

As their name implies, Pine Siskins feed on the seeds of pines and other conifers, including spruce, larch and hemlock.  They also consume the seeds of deciduous trees such as birch and alder. Pine Siskins, along with other northern species of birds, can irrupt southward in years when there is a shortage of food in their home range. 

In part because conifer seed production is poor to fair across most of Canada’s boreal forest, New England, as well as much of North America, is seeing an influx of Pine Siskins this winter.  In fact, it’s one of the biggest irruption years in recorded history for these small finches. As a rule, Pine Siskins migrate only during the day.  However, for only the second time in recorded history, they have been observed migrating in significantly large numbers at night.  Even with COVID-19 keeping you close to home, you’re likely to see a Pine Siskin this year if you keep an eye on conifers, birches and feeders filled with nyjer seed.

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10 responses

  1. Hi Mary! Just wondering if you got my check in the mail for a calendar and if you still have some/one was sent? Thanks, Heather

    Heather Stearns, Muddy Creek Pottery


    December 18, 2020 at 11:07 am

  2. We have and an abundance of them around here! They are so Cute!

    December 18, 2020 at 11:17 am

  3. Barbara Deal

    Wondering if you got my message about not receiving your wonderful calendar yet. Thanks. Barbara

    Sent from my iPad


    December 18, 2020 at 11:35 am

  4. Alice

    Hope to see one! Saw 5 Goldfinches at once, yesterday. A large hawk flew away with a Blue Jay this morning, Jay feathers & Hawk wing tip prints in the snow photos.

    December 18, 2020 at 1:25 pm

  5. Libby

    Am seeing redpolls for the first time in a few years…am thinking they are also coming south this winter looking for food?

    December 18, 2020 at 2:03 pm

  6. Virginia Cazort

    I am 84 years old. When I was a child growing up in Arkansas, maybe in the year 1945 or 1946, a large flock of pine Siskin visited our home, where my Dad fed cracked hickory nuts to birds. The birds stayed several weeks and became tame and fat and ate out of our hands or off the brim of hats. Boy Scout troops, Audubon people and school children came to feed cracked hickory nuts to the birds. With them was a white winged crossbill who was equally tame and ate out of our outstretched hands. It was lovely. They never came back although we waited fir them every year for a long time.
    Virginia Cazort, East Calais

    December 18, 2020 at 4:10 pm

  7. That explains the hordes we’ve been seeing at the feeders – 3 to 4 dozen at a time!

    December 18, 2020 at 8:18 pm

  8. Jon Pringle

    Pine Siskins arrived at our home in Essex this morning – at least 25-30 of them.

    December 20, 2020 at 10:15 am

  9. Kathryn

    I have only seen this once before – maybe 1984 or 5? They were so unafraid (and probably hungry) that they were quite happy eating out of my hand.

    December 20, 2020 at 3:51 pm

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