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Pine Siskins are very small songbirds with sharp, pointed bills and short, notched tails. Their uniquely shaped bill is more slender than that of most finches. In flight, look for their forked tails and pointed wingtips. Pine siskins are brown and very streaky birds with subtle yellow edgings on wings and tails. Flashes of yellow can erupt as they take flight, flutter at branch tips, or display during mating.
Although Pine Siskins prefer coniferous or mixed coniferous and deciduous forests with open canopies, they are opportunistic and adaptable in their search for seeds. They'll forage in weedy fields, scrubby thickets, or backyards and gardens. And they'll flock around feeders, especially thistle feeders, in woodlands and suburbs. This male was photographed at a black oil sunflower feeder in Edgefield County, SC.
Pine Siskins often visit feeders in winter (particularly for thistle or nyjer seed) or cling to branch tips of pines and other conifers, sometimes hanging upside down to pick at seeds below them. They are gregarious, foraging in tight flocks and twittering incessantly to each other, even during their undulating flight.