This page demonstrates and discusses variation within Pine
Siskin (Carduelis pinus):
Pine Siskins (PISI) are normally a scarce and unpredictable bird
in North-Central Texas during the winter. During the previous
mild winter I had just two birds visit, on 3 or 4 widely separated
occasions. This December saw a return of "normal" cold
winter weather to our region, and with it came a number of unusual
visitors (within two miles of my home on Lake Worth there were
multiple Mew and Thayer's Gulls, Califonia Gull, Lesser Black-backed
Gull, Mountain Bluebird, more Oregon and Pink-sided Juncos than
normal, etc.). My Goldfinch flock also grew, and included up to
six PISIs seen almost every day for about ten days, with two or
three seen every day for a month. During this time a very heavily-marked
individual favored my thistle sock for two days, and has not been
seen again; when seen with one of the normal birds, the contrast
- on the right-hand bird above, note the thick, in-line dorsal
streaks, plainer face, virtual lack of yellow in the wing, and
brighter white fringes to the flight feathers. At times, the face
rather reminded me of nearby House Finches:
- and at times the distal part of the maxilla appeared to be decurved
- but this may have been an artifact of its thick base and slightly
here are two examples of my normal PISIs for comparison:
- so, I ask:-
a) what subspecies are rescognized for the ABA area? - Pyle et
al's "Id. Guide to N.A. Passerines" does not
mention subspecies, yet I gather that his "Id. Guide to
N. A. Birds" (which sadly I do not possess) does describe
separate subspecies in the West and the East (details, please?).
Clement et al's "Finches and Sparrows - an Id. Guide"
describes the nominate form as occurring in the entire ABA area,
while also describing two duller subspecies from Mexico and beyond.
There is no discussion of subspecies in the two published articles
describing "green morph" PISIs (see 2nd siskin web page).
b) if there are indeed two subspecies in the ABA region,
are all the birds shown here nominate pinus?