2020—Tiny Nomad

Pine Siskins are tiny finches with a nomadic propensity. According to Cornell Labs, although Pine Siskins are fairly common to see, the species is considered to be in steep decline. It is estimated that their numbers have decreased by 80% in the past fifty years. The siskin population can be difficult to estimate because of their nomadic movements throughout the year. The decline can’t be attributed to any one thing but it is thought that domestic cats, red squirrels, hawks, jays, and crows that prey on adults and young alike are contributing factors. Because they travel in large flocks and swarm feeders, they can be vulnerable to outbreaks of salmonella transmitted at feeders that are not kept clean and by pesticides and other chemicals they ingest in fields and on roadways. These little birds are gregarious and fun to watch and they certainly didn’t seem to be in decline last August when I watched a flock numbering in the hundreds in Montana.