Looking for Lessons

A while back I wondered about reactions to the drought in nature, and if there were any potential benefits. Haven’t found any yet, although the Resident Expert suggested that invasive plants might not weather this quite as well as the drought-adapted natives. Could be. The Oxalis is definitely being held in check this year.

Bill Tweed is looking at his surroundings as well, and writes down what he’s seeing. He’s observant, and notes that the Pine Siskin hasn’t been seen in his garden this winter, and wonders where they’ve gone. Me too! We had these in our yard last winter, and I could have used them to bolster my GBBC tally last weekend. Let’s see if eBird can tell us where these little birds are now. First, here’s the current map of local sightings:

Pine Siskins, Jan/Feb 2014

So they’re around, but not in big numbers. Compare this to the same time period last year.

Pine Siskins, Jan/Feb 2013

One of those little blue markers indicates the Pine Siskins in our back yard in February, 2013.

All About Birds says this about the Pine Siskin:

Flocks of tiny Pine Siskins may monopolize your thistle feeder one winter and be absent the next. This nomadic finch ranges widely and erratically across the continent each winter in response to seed crops.

OK, so where are they? I scanned around eBird, hoping to see a bunch of them concentrated in a more favorable location, but that must be hard to come by this year. The West is too dry, and the Midwest and East are too cold. Maybe they’re staying up in western Canada and Alaska, which have been getting all the precipitation this winter. Wherever they are, it’s a location without very many eBirders. We’ll check up on them again later. They’ve got to be around here somewhere.

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