Are Siskins Nesting at Mayslake?

by Carl Strang

This past winter brought good numbers of winter finches down from the North. The last time that happened, Mayslake was a beneficiary with pine siskins all winter and occasional visits by groups of white-winged crossbills to the assorted conifers around the mansion. This year I was disappointed that such visitations were not repeated. Then, in early spring, siskins began to appear.

Pine siskins are close relatives of goldfinches, with many similar vocalizations, but browner and streaked down the front.

The siskins haven’t left. They have hung around in some past springs, too, and though I haven’t seen any young, again I am suspicious that they may be nesting. Last week I saw a squabble between a couple pairs that looked territorial. Their nests are small (4 inches in diameter according to my references), and won’t be easy to spot in the dense foliage of a conifer. If they are neatniks, there won’t be telltale bits of grass hanging down. Still, every time I walk past those conifers I am looking up, trying to spot a nest. If I find one I’ll let you know. Siskins are mainly birds of the North, but they are known to nest in Illinois.


  1. intergenerational said,

    April 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I’ve been enjoying your blog and have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Cheers!

  2. Lesa Hipes said,

    May 2, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    saw your nature post about the pine siskin nest. Very neat, to find it.
    I still have two pine siskins coming regularly to my feeders. Maybe I should look around my abor vitae for a nest. Thanks for blogging. I don’t get out as much as I used to and I can “bird” and nature walk vicariously with you.

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