Pine Siskins

Jim Chiropolos

This has been a good year at the neighborhood for pine siskins. I took my feeders down in December but most days this spring I am seeing (and hearing!) large flocks flying over the house and feeding at the live oaks at my neighborhood.

I find pine siskins to be fascinating. Almost always in groups of 10 or more -quite loud - always chattering. That must be their defense mechanism - large flocks - that can see a predator- once seen one they go silent and the flock explodes - no way a predator can follow a single bird as the flock expands and contracts with unpredictable zags

If a scrub or stellars jay is praying on siskins, its likely a single sick bird that is not healthy enough to be with a flock as jays are not good
predators - but super opportunistic looking for sick or newly fledged birds(when the chickadees fledge that breed in my house - their first day outside the nest is an adventure as the Scrub Jays hunt them - never successfully when I have watched). A sharpie can grab a healthy siskin, but thats why they flock - lots of eyes. I’ve never seen a sharpie succeed at my feeders on a siskin flock when they up. But single sick birds are vulnerable to predators and thats why I have taken down my feeders.

Siskin flocking must be a very successful survival habit, as they seem to be one of our commoner winter period visitors.

When the siskins leave I will consider putting my feeders up again.

Jim Chiropolos