Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Plume Zoom #4, answers revealed (and a life bird!)

Thanks to everyone who participated in this week's Plume Zoom. I think this edition has had the most participation yet! Thanks, and keep it coming everyone!

Okay, so here's the original shot that I gave to you in the quiz:

Here's zoomed out on that same shot:

Still not sure? Here's someone else, for comparison:

The correct answer is the Pine Siskin, which is a Life Bird for me! Here's a photo of both a Pine Siskin and its very near look-alike, the American Goldfinch, with distinguishing field marks emphasized for each.

When I saw the Siskin at my feeder my first thought was "Is that?!... no.... I think it's a Siskin!" First I grabbed my binocs for a more detailed look, and after confirming my suspicions I grabbed my camera (should always grab the camera first and confirm later, dummy, seeing as how the image may be the only way you CAN confirm it!).

The confirmation of this bird at my feeders shook my bird identification confidence a little. I often just make passing glances at the thistle feeder and don't really pay much attention to the birds that are perched there, just assuming they're Goldfinches. Seeing the Siskins there made me wonder how many other times they might have been there and I just didn't notice that subtle difference in their markings; however, when I was outside later that day and heard them chattering amongst themselves, I knew I was hearing a bird sound that was new to my ears, and that made me feel a little better that this was truly the first time they had been at my feeder, at least for any length of time.

I was worried it was going to be a short-lived thing with the Siskin that day, but it and 5 of its friends stayed around for the entire weekend. I hope they'll stay around for the rest of the season! Their presence does complicate my counts for Project Feederwatch a little bit, since I can no longer assume that all the birds at my thistle feeder are Goldfinches. Oh well - I enjoy having a new species on my weekly list.

Interestingly, I just saw this over on Bill of the Birds yesterday: "From the reports I've heard this is a big pine siskin year and a big white-winged crossbill year here in Ohio." Sounds like our Siskins are part of a state-wide trend!

There's always lots of squawking and scrapping at the thistle feeder.

The Pine Siskin is a winter visitor in most of the United States, including here in Ohio, but it is a year-round resident throughout parts of the west and along the west coast.

No, I don't feed my birds bling - I was shooting all these pictures through a screened window, and there must have been a bit of moisture on the seed that got caught just right between the sunlight and the screen.


Shellmo said...

Like your "blingy" siskins! That last photo was cute!

nina said...

I can confirm their increasing presence in Ohio, too!
Always having been a feeder watch and never having had one visit--this year we have several!

Just another reason it's not too late to start looking.
Things are always changing!

Heather said...

Shelley - Thanks. Sometimes things work out just right to get that cute, funny photo.

Hi Nina, glad you stopped by. Thanks for reporting in about your siskins, that's great info. If you see any redpolls, let me know. I'm on the lookout for them next!