Can you spot the difference?

Photo by Chris Bosak American Goldfinches eat from a feeder at Cove Island Park in Stamford, March 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
American Goldfinches eat from a feeder at Cove Island Park in Stamford, March 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches share a Nyjer feeder at Cove Island Park in Stamford, March 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches share a Nyjer feeder at Cove Island Park in Stamford, March 2015.

What’s the difference between these two photos?

It’s not one of those find 10 subtle differences puzzles, but rather a pretty simple quiz and lesson in paying attention closely to your feeders. These photos were taken about 10 minutes apart the other day at Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Stamford, Conn.

The top photo, taken first, shows all American Goldfinches on a feeder offering Nyjer seeds. At first glance the next photo appears to show a bunch of American Goldfinches, too. But there’s more to that second photo. Look closely and you’ll see a few Pine Siskins mixed in there, too. Without carefully inspection of your feeders, you may be missing out on some cool sightings.

Siskins are small finches that live up north and come down to New England in large numbers some winters. Some winters only a few come down and some winters, it seems, none come down. When they are here it’s a thrill to see them, even though they are rather nondescript birds. They resemble goldfinches in winter plumage, but siskins are more heavily streaked and have longer, thinner bills. They have been showing up at feeders throughout New England this winter, often with goldfinches, so don’t miss out by not looking carefully.

Special thanks to Dave Winston and everybody else involved with maintaining the feeders at Cove Island.

Here are a few more siskins.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Pine Siskin perches on a branch at Cove Island Park in Stamford in March, 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Pine Siskin perches on a branch at Cove Island Park in Stamford in March, 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Pine Siskin eats Nyjer seeds at Cove Island Park in Stamford, March 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Pine Siskin eats Nyjer seeds at Cove Island Park in Stamford, March 2015.

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One thought on “Can you spot the difference?

  1. Chris: I’ve noted this regularly at my feeder stations since I put up 2 finch feeders & a nyjer seed bag. Siskins out number gold finches but the gold finches here in Milford are molting to mating color quicker than your photos suggest. Tom, this confirms what we saw 2 weeks ago was in fact a pine siskin, a 1st logged for me here in Milford although I’ve seen one before. BTW I got another 1st today, an oldsquaw or by its current name long tailed duck off Gulf Beach this morning. Good day for ducks, common & red breasted mergansers, greater scaups, buffleheads, a loon (sp unknown sun in eyes), mallards, & black ducks, toss in a few grebe sp.& it was a good day. I still have one duck to ID completely. I really need to save up for a damn good spotting scope as most of these critters are so far off shore that even walking out on the fishing pier doesn’t help. Anyway between what appeared at home (16 sp.) & the OGR at Gulf beach (12 sp) I got a total of 28sp for the day with one tbd. 😉

    Rich

    Like

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