My backyard is overflowing with Pine Siskins. What started off as a handful of birds has multiplied to Hitchcockian proportions!
These little finches are incredibly cute…
…and sing a soft, sweet song…
…but don’t let their gentle appearance fool you!
When it comes time to eat, if there are a limited number of perches these finches turn fierce!
Let me show you what I mean…and go ahead and cue the epic battle scene music in your mind…think “Lord of the Wings” soundtrack!
These birds can be oh-so-aggressive, even trying to steal food out of each other’s mouths. And as you can see, they don’t always fight fair. That foot to the chest maneuver in the photo below – well, I’m pretty sure that’s a penalty!
At times, it seems like they are engaging in a finch fencing tournament, with their advancing and retreating and lunging.
The cool thing is that in the midst of their bickering you get to see the typically concealed strips of yellow on their wings and on their tail feathers.
I have never had this many Siskins in my yard at one time. Scientists would call it an “irruption” – where birds show up unexpectedly and in surprising numbers. While I have to admit that it is entertaining to watch them in their flurried frenzy of fighting…
…I do hope their visit is rather short-lived, as some of my other birds are intimidated by this mighty little finch mob and seem reluctant to come and eat.
Who knew that Pine Siskins were such winged warriors!
20 thoughts on “Winged Warriors”
Wow! I never saw that yellow stripe before.
They have hidden beauty!
…..totally agree with you–and, from what I’ve been reading, the gorgeous Purple Finch is slowly disappearing due to the more aggressive House Finch. It is a little off-putting to see finch-fighting forays happening, even when there are multiple feeders full of seed and plenty of room for everyone. Personally, my favourites are the Dark-Eyed Juncos because of how politely they bow out of any confrontation and simply head for the ground to go after the spillage, content with their status as aves without an agenda. Lovely lovely photographs. Wow.
“Aves without an agenda” – I’m gonna have to borrow that sometime!
It’s been amazing to watch this irruption on all the blogs, eBird and iNaturalist posts. Great shots! William
Aggressive little buggers. Do they fight with other birds too or only their own species?
Mostly each other it seems. Of course, the other birds seem to keep their distance!
That’s a terrific series of images, Kathy!
I love the details of the plumage visible. Of course, I’m totally jealous that you have Siskins and I don’t!
Two words: More Feeders.
Maybe they are headed your way soon. Start stockpiling sunflower chips!
Lovely shots, a great year for this bird!!
They are fun to watch, but I am going to have to start charging them for the food!
Dynamite DOES come in small packages! And with very sharp beaks!
They are fascinating to watch!
These are the most incredible pictures I’ve ever seen. i can’t believe the wing detail. Queen Elizabeth is SOME LENS! And, apparently you know how to use her.
Thanks! I am learning…but it definitely helps to have willing subjects. 🙂
I simply need a much better camera lens. Your photos are amazing. We have a similar invasion of Bluejays and they all seem to live in the blue spruce next to the driveway. I refill the seed cube and corncob supply every two days. These beauties are voracious and fierce even in the presence of the resident squirrel. He seemed undeterred until getting pecked while hanging upside down munching on a corncob. Poor little fellow had no defense in such a vulnerable position. The superiority of nature is fantastic.
Blue Jays are so much fun to watch! I am always amazed at how many peanuts they can pack away in a single sitting.
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