Thursday, 22 March 2012

Siskins in the rain

Male Siskin en route to the feeder

Its not every weekend that I get to verify  a piece of scientific information as reported by the BTO:  Siskins we know from experience to be very nomadic, with lots of ringing data proving this point: wanderers to Britain and back, often clocking up distances of 400 or their passage ..

Female Siskin

The BTO also reports that on a micro scale, Siskins can suddenly appear in the garden in wet or showery conditions, a fact I witnessed twice in recent weeks, notable too because its been remarkably dry through February and March.  Siskins leave the nearby, mature Spruce plantation during rain or wet periods because the seed bearing Spruce cones, a favourite food of Siskins, close up in wet conditions and so our Siskins appear in a small party at the feeders, fussing and holding their own with bigger relatives such as the Greenfinch.

Upside down, with a Greenfinch for comparison
 You may notice that they frequently choose to perch upside down on the peanut feeder.  Now surely somebody knows why Siskins perch upside down whilst on the feeders? Perhaps this position helps save the body feathers from saturation in rain or perhaps it permits a hasty retreat if a predator appears?  Or maybe they are adapting a strategy to extract the max. from nearly empty feeders?  Fascinating creatures!
..and right side up

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I had not heard that Siskins appear in gardens in wet weather because the damp has closed the seed cones... how fascinating.

    I had wondered about the Siskin's hanging upside-down habit and thought maybe it had evolved as a means of coping with the spiny leaves on spruce shoots. I'd say it would be easier for them to run down a spruce shoot rather than up, because the spiny leaves generally point downwards.