The "Pine Siskin" lacks any sure field marks, so his voice is the best clue to his identity. This little dark finch roams the evergreen forests, descending in flocks, on a stand of pine or spruce, working through the branches. It loves salt and raids licks and dock areas where fish are cured, as well as gathering along highways and roads that have been salted to melt snow.
Flocks of "Pine Siskin" alternately bunch up and disperse in undulating flight.
The "Pine Siskin" has no fixed breeding ground, but wanders all over its range from southern Alaska, Manitoba and Newfoundland, south through the western mountains to California, Arizona and New Mexico. It can be found in the Great Lakes Region, Kansas and New England. Even his breeding season varies.
Calls or song.
This bird's song is a long and complex series of husky whispering trills, long down-slurred notes and short up-slurred notes: "che-che-che chew zz-zhreeee" to "ta chew. . . brrrrrr."
Population and distribution.
This northern visitor to the United States comes, in winter, in search of a seed crop that might have failed in the boreal forests. In some years, large flocks may appear as far south as Florida feeding in parks, suburbs and backyards.
The female siskin builds a nest of rootlets, bark fiber, grass and moss and lines it with down and hair if available. This she places well out on the limb of a hemlock or other evergreen. She lays three or four pale blue-green eggs, spotted with brown and black.