Composite flowers, spruces, hemlocks, and pines attract Goldfinch and Pine Siskin
(Carduelis pinus): Small, dark, heavily streaked finch with a deeply notched tail.
Irruption or eruption, the phenomenon typically involves one or more of North America's "big eight" boreal seed-eaters: the common redpoll, pine siskin
, purple finch, evening grosbeak, pine grosbeak, red crossbill, white-winged crossbill and red-breasted nuthatch.
Winter birding, while not my favorite, can be quite satisfying -- especially during "invasion" years like this when common redpolls, pine siskins
and snowy owls are possible.
Exciting sightings of crossbills, pine siskins
, redpolls, and possibly evening grosbeaks -- irruptive species that visit us infrequently -- are indications of poor seed crops up north.
Seed-loving birds, such as goldfinches and pine siskins
, eat thistle seeds while perching carefully among the spines.
Popular offerings include sugar water for hummingbirds and tanagers; live mealworms for bluebirds and American robins; orange halves for orioles; sunflower seeds for grosbeaks, jays, northern cardinals, and chickadees; and nyjer (thistle) seed for finches, pine siskins
, and redpolls.
CBCs can illustrate the presence of irruptive species such as certain "winter finches"--redpolls, pine siskins
, crossbills and pine grosbeaks that occasionally travel south in large numbers.
Every day, Trudy watched at the window, observing and writing about each newcomer: the beautiful black-and-white-striped downy woodpecker, the brave, bright-eyed chickadees, the bullying blue jays who chased the other birds away, and the tiny pine siskins
who showed the pretty yellow undersides of their wings as they flew.
Soon blue jays and squirrels have joined the mix, scratching for their piece of grain, and goldfinches and pine siskins
have arrived, squabbling over the black thistle seed.
Seed-eaters such as evening grosbeaks, goldfinches, and pine siskins
prefer black oil sunflower and niger thistle.