Overview

Brief Summary

Spinus pinus

A small (4 ½ -5 inches) finch, the male Pine Siskin is most easily identified by its streaked brown body, dark wings, and conspicuous yellow wing bar. Female Pine Siskins are similar to males, but are somewhat duller and lack the yellow on the wing. This species may be separated from dull winter American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis) by that species’ plain, not streaked, body. The Pine Siskin breeds across southern Alaska, southern Canada, and the northern United States. This species’ range extends southward at higher elevations through the western U.S., continuing as far south as Mexico and Guatemala. Northerly-breeding populations may withdraw from their breeding range during the winter, and small numbers may move far south of this species’ main range during winters when food is scarce, but much of the time this species within its breeding range. Pine Siskins inhabit northern and high-mountain evergreen forests. Likewise, individuals wandering further south in winter typically associate themselves with evergreen habitats, although they also visit bird feeders as well. Pine Siskins eat seeds, particularly those of cone-bearing evergreen trees, a fact which explains this species’ habitat preferences as well as its name. In appropriate habitat, Pine Siskins may be observed perching on or hanging from seed cones while plucking out the seeds contained within. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a series of squeaky “clee-ip” notes. Pine Siskins are primarily active during the day, although individuals may forage for food by moonlight when food is scarce.

Threat Status: Least Concern

  • Carduelis pinus. Xeno-canto. Xeno-canto Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012. .
  • Dawson, William R. 1997. Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/280
  • Peterson, Roger Tory. Birds of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980. Print.
  • Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus). The Internet Bird Collection. Lynx Edicions, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012. .
  • eBird Range Map - Pine Siskin. eBird. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, N.d. Web. 20 July 2012. .
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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Nesting range extends from central and south-coastal Alaska east across Canada to Labrador, and south to northern Baja California, southern Mexico and Guatemala, western Texas, Great Lakes region, and northern New England, and sporatically southward to the central Great Plains region and southern Appalachian Mountains region (Dawson 1997, AOU 1998).

Winter range extends from the breeding range (except far northern noncoastal part) south to southern Mexico and Guatemala, Gulf coast of the United States, and northern Florida (Dawson 1997, AOU 1998).

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Physical Description

Size

Length: 13 cm

Weight: 15 grams

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Diagnostic Description

See McLaren et al. (1989, Am. Birds 43:1268-1274) for detailed information on distinguishing between pine and Eurasian siskins.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: Habitats include various forests and woodlands, parks, and gardens and yards in suburban areas. In migration and winter, this species occurs in a variety of woodland and forest habitats, partly open situations with scattered trees, open fields, pastures, and savanna (AOU 1983). It has been positively affected by forest fragmentation in southern Wyoming (Keller and Anderson 1992). Nests often are placed about half way up a conifer or deciduous tree and are hidden among outer branches.

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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Pine siskins may wander irregularly during winter.

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: This species forages in trees and on the ground for seeds (e.g., of alder, birches, pines, maples, thistles) and insects. It also eats flower buds of elms, and drinks nectar from eucalyptus blossoms and sap from sapsucker holes (Terres 1980).

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: > 300

Comments: This species is represented by a very large number of occurrenes (subpopulations).

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Global Abundance

>1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but certainly exceeds 1,000,000. Despite apparent declines, this species remains common in many areas. Rich et al. (2004) estimated population size at 22,000,000.

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General Ecology

Pine siskins are gregarious in fall and winter and often travel in flocks of typically 50-200. Occasionally a few siskins travel in flocks with goldfinches and redpolls during winter (Terres 1980).

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 11 years
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Reproduction

Clutch size is 3-4, sometimes 5. Incubation, by female, lasts 13 days (Terres 1980). Both parents tend young, which leave nest 15 days after hatching. Sometimes individual females produce 2 broods/year. Pine siskins frequently nest in loose colonies.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Carduelis pinus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 9 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNAGGCACCGCCCTAAGCCTTCTCATCCGAGCAGAATTAGGTCAACCNGGAGCCCTCCTAGGAGACGACCAAGTCTACAACGTAATCGTCACGGCCCATGCTATCGTTATAATCTTTTTCATAGTTATACCCATCATAATCGGAGGGTTCGGAAACTGACTAGTTCCCCTAATAATCGGAGCCCCAGACATAGCATTCCCACGAATAAATAACATAAGCTTCTGACTACTCCCCCCATCATTCCTCCTCCTACTAGCATCCTCCACCGTAGAAGCAGGTGTTGGTACAGGTTGAACAGTGTATCCCCCACTAGCTGGTAACCTAGCCCATGCCGGAGCTTCAGTTGACCTAGCAATCTTCTCCCTACACCTAGCCGGTATTTCTTCAATTCTAGGTGCAATCAACTTCATCACAACAGCAATCAACATAAAACCCCCTGGCCTATCACAATACCAAACCCCCCTATTCGTCTGATCAGTCCTAATTACTGCAGTACTCCTACTCCTTTCCCTCCCAGTTCTCGCTGCAGGAATTACAATACTTCTCACAGACCGCAACCTCAACACCACATTCTTCGACCCTGCAGGAGGAGGTGACCCAGTCCTATACCAACACCTTTTCTGATTCTTTGGTCACCCAGAAGTATACATCCTCATCCTC
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Carduelis pinus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 9
Specimens with Barcodes: 9
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

History
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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