Friday, 16 January 2015

Pine Siskin (Tarin des pins)

Paletta Park
Burlington, ON
14 January 2015

     Pine Siskin Spinus pinus is a notoriously irruptive species; in some years it appears to be everywhere and in others one cannot find a single bird. It is fundamentally a northern species and moves south in years when the conifer crop fails to provide adequate food for the winter.
     As far as I know, 2015 is not slated to be a bumper year for siskins in the southern part of the province and we were delighted to see this singleton feeding on small cones. 

     When major incursions occur it is a species that readily takes advantage of bird feeders and I can recall in years past when every perch on a finch seed feeder has been occupied by a Pine Siskin. I will be keeping a close eye out the window to look for them this year!

     Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus is one of those species that seems to have been named by a drunkard who couldn't see straight, or a taxonomist with a perverse sense of humour. To find the red belly referred to requires some fine detective work, and it was pure happenstance that we captured it on the picture below.

     Yes folks, that little smudge of colour on the lower belly is how this handsome bird got its name. I am sure that we could all think of a dozen better descriptive nomenclatures!


  1. Smashing images David,love the Red bellied Woodpecker.

  2. Both birds are beautiful as well as photos. Regards.

  3. Super shots, David.
    The first bird is a true acrobat...and the red bellie....has a red bellie indeed.....
    I wish you a fine weekend. Gr Jan W

  4. Hello David,
    These are really great photos of the Pine Siskin and the Red-bellied Woodpecker.
    Perfect photographed.
    In the Netherlands, this species is not.
    Best regards, Irma

  5. I must say that you are getting better photos David and I visit this siskin look I see wonderful pictures. Sharp and clear. I'm jealous of your beautiful woodpecker. In the Netherlands they have this woodpecker not but I think it's really, really nice!

  6. Beautiful images David, yes, I don't believe that name is quite there, Red bellied, still, a brilliant catch.

  7. We are due a winter incursion of (Eurasian) Siskin too............

  8. Never knew that about the woodpecker!

  9. Hello David, those are wonderful captures of the Siskin. And I love the story of the woodpecker. Love this bird. I do not think we have this kind here in Europe.

  10. WOW!
    That Siskin is gorgeous, looks a bit like ours but probably a tinge darker!
    The pecker is a real beauty too, what a lovely post!
    Hugs to share with Miriam :)

  11. Great series on the Pine Siskin. And I love the Redbellied Woodie.. Happy weekend!

  12. Your Pine Siskins clearly share many traits of our own European Siskin. The only time I might expect on or two in the garden is March to April on Nyger seed when presumably their preferred natural food of alder cones have lost their autumn fruitiness.

    That clear blue sky shows off your siskin to best advantage. Oh for some clear blue sky and warm days!

  13. My husband is often scathing about the common names of some birds - with reason! We definitely don't have Siskins here so interesting to enjoy your well captured images.