[Ontbirds] Green Morph Pine Siskin - Richmond Hill - Fri Jan 30

Frank Pinilla fpinilla15 at gmail.com
Fri Jan 30 21:48:27 EST 2009

On the heels of Ron's note from yesterday, today (Fri Jan 30) I had a
green morph Pine Siskin at my feeders.  It seems to have arrived along
with a massive increase in the number of Common Redpolls (high of 40
yesterday after the first ones arrived just 2 weeks ago), up to 100+

I've only had a maximum of 2 Pine Siskins at any one time though, so
in my estimation the rate of green morph Siskins is 50%
(tongue-in-cheek, Ron), this bird was noticeably greenish along with
the reduced streaking in the flanks, breast & belly and much yellower
wing stripes.

For two days, I've had a "rostrata" subspecies of Common Redpoll
(commonly called the "Greenland" race), the bird is a good 10% bigger
than the nominate "flammea" ssp, along with much darker colouration.
Still awaiting my first Hoary.

Yesterday there was a flock of 40+ Snow Buntings circling over the
house and adjacent fields.  Also, the local Sharp-shinned Hawk shows
up every 3 or 4 days and the pair of Great Horned Owls are calling
almost nightly now!

Good winter birding,
Frank Pinilla
Richmond Hill, ON

My place is adjacent to undeveloped fields and a local woodlot and
kettle lake on the moraine (part of the Oak Ridges trail), just west
of the intersection of Yonge St. & Stouffville Rd.

On 1/29/09, Jean Iron <jeaniron at sympatico.ca> wrote:
> This morning I saw a green morph Pine Siskin among the many typical
> siskins at our feeders adjacent Brookbanks Ravine in Toronto.
> Compared to heavily streaked brown morph siskins, green morph birds
> lack or have reduced brown pigments (phaeomelanin) exposing the
> underlying feather colours. Green morphs are greyish (not brownish)
> with a slight greenish hue to the upperparts and the underparts are
> lightly streaked, usually there is more yellow in the wings/tail, and
> the undertail coverts are often yellow (not always) unlike typical
> brown morph birds.
> The greenish hue seems to be mostly a mixture of yellow (carotenoid)
> and grey (eumelanin) pigments. The amount of yellow in siskins seems
> to vary independently. Some green morphs may be more yellow simply
> because we see the yellow that normally would be hidden by brown
> pigments. Other Pine Siskins show a lot of yellow and yet are normal
> in terms of their brown and black coloration. I wouldn't call these
> green morphs, but simply yellower (xanthochroic) siskins. Perhaps the
> Sibley Guide (2000) was trying to cover both cases with the yellow
> adult male Pine Siskin on page 534.
> This is one of the best winters for Pine Siskins in a decade. Watch
> for green morph birds, which comprise about 1 in 100 siskins. They
> are sometimes confused with Eurasian Siskins. See ID article
> http://fog.ccsf.cc.ca.us/~jmorlan/siskin_scan.pdf
> I thank Michel Gosselin, one of the authors of the above article, of
> the Canadian Museum of Nature for information on green morph Pine Siskins.
> Directions: Brookbanks Ravine is east of the Don Valley Parkway
> between York Mills Road and Lawrence Avenue.
> Ron Pittaway
> Minden/Toronto ON
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