Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pine Siskins and catching up - 02/07

We put up a thistle seed feeder on the deck about a week ago and the results have been tremendous. After a quite hour on the first morning, it's been pretty much non-stop action everyday with American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins dominating the scene. The Pine Siskin situation is fantastic with 20 - 30 at our feeder daily though we have way more than that in our neighborhood. Almost every household with appropriate feeders has similar sized flocks and I'm comfortable in estimating 300-400 birds in the area centered around North Whitney Street. We haven't had any Redpolls yet but I dare say that we'll see one or two appearing before the middle of the month. Other neat birds in our Amherst neighborhood have included Barred Owl (seen at dusk on Jan 29th), Northern Flicker (Feb 5th) and White-winged Crossbills with 2 on Jan 28th, 5 on Jan 30th, 9 on Feb 6th and 2 on Feb 7th. There's also been an increase in bird song lately with Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Northern Cardinal being the most vocal and numerous Downy Woodpeckers drumming.

Of interest, we've had a 'pale' Pine Siskin coming to the feeder on Feb 5th & 6th. It's rather distinctive with subtle streaking, especially above and a rather 'pallid' cast to the plumage. Closer inspection shows the bird to have a yellowish wash on the breast, belly and undertail coverts somewhat resembling a weak version of the 'Yellow' adult male illustrated in Sibley (p. 534).

Pine Siskin - fairly pale bird with variable yellowish wash on breast and belly.

Pine Siskin - same bird, fairly pale with variable yellowish wash on breast, belly and (shown here) undertail coverts.

Pine Siskin - same bird, rather subtle treaking above and below. I'll post some shots of more typcially streaked birds in a day or so in addition to the bird shown below.

Pine Siskin - fairly typical bird.

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