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Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

The Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus) is one of the small thistle-seed loving finches that flock to bird-feeders in the winter. It is distinguished by brown streaking and yellow patches at the base of its tail and wing flight feathers. The Siskin is a year-round resident primarily in the coniferous forest in parts of southern Canada, northern New England, the western states, and central Mexico. In years of poor cone seed production in the North, Pine Siskins will migrate south in winter to the mid-U.S. Because of climate and habitat change, great Pine Siskin flocks will probably never be seen again in Louisiana and Florida, as they were in the early 1900's. The Pine Siskin's twittering chatter is slightly raspy compared to that of the American Goldfinch, and the siskin characteristically punctuates the chatter with a loud, harsh, ascending "zreee".

See all Pine Siskin photos

Field Marks:

The Pine Siskin has a pencil-point bill, notched tail, overall brown streaking, and yellow patches at the base of the tail and wing flight feathers. (L. 5 in.)


The Pine Siskin is a permanent resident in coastal Alaska, southern Canada and the Maritime Provinces, northern New England, from Colorado west into the Sierra and Cascade Ranges, in the coastal range, and south into the Mexican highlands. The Siskin breeds in northern Canada and interior Alaska.

Similar Species:

American_Goldfinch_b13-38-016 American Goldfinch:  (Species account)  (all photos)

The American Goldfinch lacks the overall brown streaking in all plumages.
Lesser_Goldfinch_t19-1-047 Lesser Goldfinch:  (all photos)

The Lesser Goldfinch lacks the overall brown streaking in all plumages.

Habitat & Nesting:

Pine siskins breed primarily in open coniferous forest. Nests are usually well-concealed in an evergreen tree. In winter they use a wide variety of habitats.

More Information:

Pine Siskins move erratically and are less likely than other birds to return to the same areas to nest. Populations in a given area can vary dramatically from year to year.