Pine Siskins are related to other finches such as the American Goldfinch, Lesser Goldfinch, Purple Finch, and House Finch. Visually they’re a perfect mashup of a House Finch and an American Goldfinch, though they have a finer bill than either. Because of that fine bill, they’re unable to crack larger seeds such as whole Black Oil Sunflower, so they tend to favor tiny seeds such as Nyjer and fine sunflower chips (like so many finches, they seem to prefer fine sunflower over almost everything).
Pine Siskins often congregate in large flocks, but individuals sometimes come to feeders with flocks of American Goldfinches. Being the same size and with similar coloration, they easily blend in with goldfinches, and unless one looks closely they can go unnoticed.
Our feeders have been crowded with American Goldfinches this winter, but we’ve only seen a small number of Pine Siskins. The few that have visited have been either singles or pairs mixed in among our large Goldfinch flocks. We’ve yet to see any on their own. The bird in the above photo recently visited along with a flock of 20+ Goldfinches.
More information at the Audubon Field Guide →