Wild and free, that’s the way to be. —Save Our Birds
During three snowstorms in a week, and already having rescued a red-breasted nuthatch, another bird found itself in dire need of help. This time, a pine siskin. Beyond the glass door, another hawk was on the attack. Birds scattered in every direction; then came a thump! A dreadful sound that meant one thing, a bird was down. In haste, I don’t think my feet touched the floor, but they must have, I just don’t remember. Looking out, I saw nothing until I stepped outside. There you are, I said to the frazzled little siskin sitting motionless, dazed and confused at the foot of the glass door. It was bitterly cold, in the teens and was starting to snow again; frightful weather for a traumatized bird. Cupping my hand around her, she didn’t struggle. In just seconds, her cold body began to warm.
Indoors, and after a brief warmup, the siskin had revived. She was bright and alert again. Outdoors, and as I had done with the nuthatch, I slowly opened my hand. The siskin sat calmly. Snow fell around us, but there was no hurry. She would fly when the time was right. She made a few quick gestures, tilting her head from side to side, looking up and looking down, then up again. She was ready to fly, and fly she did!
The pine siskin (Spinus pinus) is a year-round resident. A small songbird that belongs to the finch family. Able to store seeds in a throat crop, as much as 10 percent of its body weight, can sustain the siskin for hours during frigid winter nights. The pine siskin is one of the tamest little birds I’ve ever met; even more so than a chickadee or nuthatch. I’ve had them fly into a seed bucket before ever reaching the feeder. So tame is this little bird that it allows itself to be picked up and held for a moment. I don’t make a habit of it, but I do enjoy the gift of holding them from time to time.
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