In todays post, I am sharing a photo of a Pine Siskin that has been visiting our feeders the last several days. Pine Siskin are normally tan and brown in color with dark streaking on their light colored breast and showing a hint of yellow in their outer wings and at the base of the tail. This particular individual displays a far amount of Leucism.
In leucistic birds, affected plumage lacks melanin pigment due to the cells responsible for melanin production being absent. This results in white feathers, unless the normal plumage color also comprises carotenoids (e.g. yellows), which remain unaffected by the condition. Although leucism is inherited, the extent and positioning of the white colouration can vary between adults and their young, and can also skip generations if leucistic genes are recessive.
Pine Siskin: This unpredictable little bird of the conifer belt runs in gangs, zipping over the trees with incessant twittering. An expert at disguise, the Pine Siskin can resemble a cluster of pine needles or cones, and even disappear when a Sharp-shinned Hawk appears. Often abundant wherever there are pines, spruces, and other conifers, Pine Siskins may still disappoint birdwatchers by making a mass exodus from a region if the food supply is not to their liking. A vicious fighter at feeding tables, nomadic by nature with high energy and fearlessness, the Pine Siskin is a fascinating species.