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Siskins Sketchbook Page Hannah Longmuir

I have chosen the siskin as my bird of the month for May.  These little yellow sweethearts have been our constant companions in the garden this month.  We haven’t really seen siskins on the feeders here before – except the odd fleeting sighting in the winter – but this spring there has been at least one family feasting on the sunflower hearts all month.  At first it was mostly just the male, then the female, and now there are flufty little fledglings.  I’ve read that they tend to visit garden feeders when their preferred food source is unavailable.  I wonder if the hard, cold, wet spring has impacted their food supply.  They are also nomadic little things with no loyalty to breeding or feeding stations so perhaps they are just passing by this spring.  Regardless of the reason, they are very welcome.

The yellowness of the male is quite astounding.  A rich sunshiney juxtaposition to an otherwise very grey May (so much rain, May! Why?!).  He seems to be more settled on the feeders than the other little garden birds.  While the blue tits flit in and away, barely stopping, the siskins seem to sit on the feeders peacefully for quite a while.  I like them so much.

Siskins make me nostalgic for my childhood.  I had assumed that they were an at-risk species in the UK because I remember them being constants on our feeders when we were growing up, and now I think of them as a rarity.  But they are a Green status bird on the Birds of Conservation Concern list which is good news.  Both my dad and my Auntie Molly were bird enthusiasts.  They taught us to tell our greenfinches from our siskins when we were very little.  There was no generic ‘birdie’ in our house.  [Note: Pig has just turned two but he is already familiar with woodpeckers and blackbirds and sparrowhawks and robins.  No ‘birdies’ in this house either].  I like anything which gives me pause to reminisce about my lovely dad and my wonderful aunt.  They gave me a childhood filled with the incoming and outgoing wing-beats of feathered friends.  There’s so much more colour and movement in your life when there are birds in it.

This has been a better month for me, despite the rain.  I’m taking that tiny bundle of siskin yellow and hoping it grows into a summer of gorgeous gold.

 

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