Irruption - ir·rup'tion n. - a sudden sharp increase in the relative numbers of a population.
Every winter bird irruptions are taking place somewhere in North America. This year informal bird counts and reports indicate we are in the middle of an irruption. The species, the Pine Siskin, a member of the finch family. Reports of the Pine Siskin are numerous in the GTA, west of us through Mississauga to Burlington and then north-west into the Guelph area. Irruptions are generally thought to be related to the lack of availability of food in their more natural winter habitat. In the case of the Pine Siskin further north.
The Pine Siskin and the American Goldfinch are within the same genus, thus they share some similar characteristics. They are about five inches in length and have a wing span of about nine inches. Body and wing markings distinguish the Pine Siskin from the American Goldfinch.
In general the Pine Siskin has dark brown streaks on its buff coloured head and trunk (back of the bird) and the underparts are whitish and finely streaked with dark brown. The wings are primarily blackish in color with buff edges. The male has yellow wing bars.
In regards to food, the Pine Siskin is just like the Goldfinch. They love nyjer seed. They will feed at all types of nyjer seed feeders. While writing this we have a mixture of thirty Goldfinch, Pine Siskin and Common Redpoll feeding at our nyjer feeders, an Upside Down Finch Feeder and a WBU Mesh Feeder. We usually see next to no activity at our nyjer feeders in the winter months. It is also possible that this is an irruptive year for the Common Redpoll, but sightings aren't quite as numerous.
We don't usually recommend trying to start feeding nyjer seed in the winter months but this year seems to be the exception.
We carry a wide price range of feeders ($9.99 to $61.99) in four different styles. To take part in this intriguing and fascinating phenomenon we would suggest purchasing our Irruption Special. A basic nyjer feeder and five pounds of nyjer seed for twenty dollars tax included, a savings of over three dollars. In the worst case you will be ready for finch feeding in the spring.
Now is the time to enjoy the antics of wintering finch.