I went out to Mr. Neil's yesterday to deal with some of our beehives that died over the winter (it was a hard winter, lots of beekeepers lost hives, it's part of the hobby). While walking around outside, I could hear titmice singing territory song and then I heard a golden-crowned kinglet.
I looked out the window and among the goldfinches noticed someone a little streaky.
It was a pine siskin! Some winters, we get tons and tons of siskins that show up, but this winter we didn't see very many pine siskins at all. I was glad to see this one siskin and thought it strange that it was alone--you generally get a buttload of siskins, not just one or two.
I looked out the window five minutes later and the number of siskins outnumbered the goldfinches. I went outside and the trees were full of them, their chipping and trilling took over the chorus of other birds. Here's a link to what they sound like--does that sound familiar? Have you heard that in your yard?
I think this is definitely a sign that spring is on its way--even up there in the northern states (finally). Between the kinglet and the large siskin flock, these are birds moving north. Can red-winged blackbirds be far behind for me? Watch for these finches at your feeder, you'll notice them from goldfinches by their extreme streaky plumage. They love Nyjer (aka thistle) and above the birds are eating sunflower seeds.