Hand Feeding Pine Siskins

by John Briggs on November 8, 2010

in Bird Photographs, Bird Photography Weekly, Birding Videos, Blog, Maine Birds

Pine Siskin - Bath, Maine

Pine Siskin - Bath, Maine | Click thumbnail for larger view

It was a cold and dreary Sunday afternoon so Sharon and I decided to stay home,  make homemade lasagna and watch Patriots football. After the game, we watched Robin Hood (the version with Russell Crowe) on blu-ray which I must say is an awesome flick.

During the football game, we noticed Pine Siskins coming to our feeding stations. This is not unusual in itself, but over 100 of them is very unusual. Sharon noticed the tray feeder had little food in it so she went out to put some seed in the tray.

As the Patriots were playing like a high school football team, I looked outside to see how Sharon was doing. Imagine my surprise when I saw her with Pine Siskins standing on her hands enjoying a treat of sunflower hearts. I made a mad scramble for the camera to capture this awesome event.

Sharon hand feeding Pine Siskins

Sharon hand feeding Pine Siskins | Click thumbnail for larger view

I struggled to get a good exposure through the living room window due to late afternoon light, cloudy skies and rainfall. I went into the bedroom, quietly lowered the upper window sash and slowly peaked out with the camera. This would have to do because I didn’t want to risk going outside and scaring the birds away.

There were times that Sharon had 3 to 4 birds on each hand. They landed on her arms, on her head and on her shoulders. The Pine Siskins were on the ground at her feet, in the tray feeder near her head and on the arms of the feeder pole above her. Light was waning fast so I captured as many photos and videos as I could.

Sad to say, a lot of the photos and a few videos were awful but I managed to squeak out a few half decent captures. I will admit that I’m not good at taking photos in low light situations. Shooting at such a slow shutter speed, coupled with any movement what-so-ever by the subject or myself makes for awful captures.

It wasn’t long until the birds took off to roost for the night. Sharon was ecstatic and I am sure she will never forget being in the midst of so many birds. I only wish there was more light to work with and that I had more captures to show for it. Hopefully, the Siskies will return another day when the light is bright and they are willing to eat from her hands once again.

Dimension: 560×480 | Video bit rate: 1000Kbps | File Size: 32.6mb
Playback: Click Play Button | Broadband Connection Recommended
Video: Hand feeding Pine Siskins | ©2010 John Briggs Photography
Watch in full-sized HD at YouTube by clicking video screen after playback begins.

Happy birding!



Kerri November 8, 2010 at 1:06 pm

This is sooooooo awesome! What an experience!!
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NatureFootstep November 8, 2010 at 1:11 pm

lol, so much fun. How can they be so unafraid? I like the coloring of that bird.
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@DawnFine November 8, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Woweee..How wonderful for you and Sharon! Awesome video John..thats allot of siskens!

Mick November 8, 2010 at 3:00 pm

What a fantastic experience! Even better that you were able to get some photos and video. Thanks for sharing.

Cindy November 8, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Such a cool experience and video to capture it all. besides. So many siskins!

Larry Jordan November 8, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Awesome John! It looks like a very good year for Pine Siskins and for Sharon! Great video too ;-)
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@gwendolen November 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Wonderful. Guess they were feeling a bit peckish :-)

Chris November 9, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Wow I'm first amazed by their numbers and then by their confidence!!! This human artefact that we call hand can be very dangerous for wildlife!!!
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Andy November 9, 2010 at 8:29 pm

When I try to have the birds eat out of my hand, they stare at me :)
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Mike B. November 10, 2010 at 12:45 am

I'm jealous. Great opportunity. By the way, I'm a Jets fan, so I was thoroughly enjoying the Pats game and the Jets insane comeback.
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prairiebirder November 10, 2010 at 7:35 am

Pine Siskins are so cute, you had so many at the feeder, it is so neat to hand feed birds.

Kat November 11, 2010 at 11:41 am

What a crowd you had at your feeder. I can just imagine how thrilled Sharon must have felt to be feeding them out of her hand.

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Julie G November 11, 2010 at 4:35 pm

A most fantastic experience! Great photos and video! Thank you for sharing. A joy to read such a wonderful post :)
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corralena November 11, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Amazing post and photos. Love the viddy!
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Shelley November 15, 2010 at 8:35 pm

What a thrilling capture! I love those feisty pine siskins! I had them eating out of my hand last winter, a few would even scold each other while trying to get the seed out of my hand.
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Eileen November 27, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Wow, that is really cool. I have tried to hand feed some chickadees But they would not have it. Awesome photos.

Bill November 29, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Nice video of the pine siskins. It is really interesting how they sometimes travel in such large groups, you know the many eyes finds food theory. Nice post, Thanks.

Penelope December 5, 2010 at 7:42 pm

We had our first small flock today. I wrote a quick blog post with some photos, and after I read this I amended it to include a link to your story and video. What an extraordinary experience that must have been!
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