Wild Birds Unlimited Newsletter
~ For those passionate about birding and nature ~
December 2017                                                                                          Volume 12.17
Nature News

High Desert Bird of the Month
Pine Siskin

BOM: Pine Siskin
Scientific name: Carduelis pinus
Pine Siskins are the most welcome surprise winter visitors to our yards. I say "surprise" because the winter movement of Pine Siskins is almost totally unpredictable. If pine cone crops in northern North America are skimpy, large populations of siskins will make an "irruptive" winter migration south and east, sometimes as far as Florida. When this occurs, many of us in the Truckee Meadows are likely to see Pine Siskins on our nyjer (thistle) feeders right alongside the goldfinches. How can you determine if siskins are visiting your yard?
Pine Siskins are a very small songbird, the same size as American Goldfinch, with brown, very streaky bodies, a small sharp-pointed bill, and short notched tail. The bill is more slender than that of most species of finch. They have yellow edging on wings and tail that may not be as conspicuous on some individuals.   They will congregate mostly at nyjer feeders, but also like hulled sunflower and may occasionally eat suet. Siskins are usually in flocks, and they can be aggressive around food sources. They may also forage close to heavier-beaked birds, picking up the fragments of larger seeds that they can't crack themselves. Another sure-fire way to tell if you have Pine Siskins in your yard is their call - a buzzy, rising zreeeeee.
Pine Siskins get through cold nights by accelerating their metabolic rate about 40% higher than other songbirds. In sub-zero temperatures, this increase can be as much as five times the normal rate. They also have the ability to store seeds equal to about 10% of their body mass in their crop. That amount of food can provide enough energy to get through five or six nighttime hours of subzero temperatures.
Pine Siskin normally nest in forests of western Canada and southern Alaska. In irruptive years, some individuals who have wandered south for the winter will breed far south of their normal range. Their nests are usually in conifer trees. The female builds a shallow saucer-shaped nest, lined with feathers, moss, or thistle down. During brooding, the female stays on the nest and is fed by the male.
You can attract Pine Siskins with nyjer feeders, hulled sunflower and a consistent source of water for drinking and bathing.
For more information on Pine Siskins, visit one of the three Moana Nursery store locations: 1100 W. Moana Ln. & 11301 S. Virginia St., Reno and 7644 Pyramid Hwy., Sparks.
Carmel Ruiz-Hilton is Manager of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shops at Moana Nursery in Reno/Sparks

 The Joy of Bird Feeding

Share the Joy!

The delight of seeing so many active and energetic birds at your feeders, and knowing that you are having a positive impact on the quality of their lives, makes feeding the birds a real joy; especially this time of the year. The best part is that this joy is available to everyone.


Across North America, over 180 bird species can be attracted to yards with the right food, water, and shelter. Any given yard can attract 60 or more kinds of birds. That's a lot of joy and all of it right outside your window.

Winter is a great time to watch the different types of birds at your feeders. Woodpeckers are busy eating mouthfuls of suet. Juncos and sparrows hurriedly scour the ground for millet.


Finches take turns at the finch feeder. Jays raucously grab peanuts and nuthatches and chickadees industriously horde sunflower seeds.

Bird feeding is a fun and educational hobby, and this is the season to share it with everyone.


Stop by the store this month and share the joy of the birds with us. We have the best seed, feeders, nature gifts and advice, and we can help you introduce this wonderfully joyful hobby to your neighbors, friends and family.


Wild Birds Unlimited Freshest Bird Seed in Town!

Red Hot Seed Prices Dec 1-31
NEW! Wildlife Blend $34.00 reg / $31.00 sale 
Deluxe Blend  $21.99 reg / $18.99 sale
Upcoming Events

Lahontan Audubon Society
Friday, December 1
8:00am Field Trip - Davis Creek Regional Park

Tuesday, December 5
10:00am Idlewild Health Walks

Tuesday, December 12
6:00pm LAS Board meeting

Friday, December 15
7:00am Fallon CBC, Fallon NV
7:00am Sierra Valley CBC, Sierra Valley, CA
8:00am Field Trip - Silver Saddle Ranch, Carson City

Saturday, December 16
7:00am Elko CBC, Elko, NV
7:00am Truckee Meadows CBC, Reno
7:00am American Valley CBC, Quincy, CA

Sunday, December 17
7:00am Carson City CBC
8:00am South Lake Tahoe CBC, South Lake Tahoe, Ca

Tuesday, December 19
7:00am Ely CBC, Ely, NV

Wednesday, December 20
7:00am Hart Mountain NWR CBC

Thursday, December 21
7:30am  Honey Lake CBC

Friday, December 22
7:00am Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge CBC

Saturday, December 30
7:00am  Minden CBC, Minden NV

Nature Happenings
  • Project FeederWatch continues, www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw 
  • Christmas Bird Count is this month, birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count 
  • Watch for Bald Eagles along the rivers.
  • Beaver mating season.
  • Rather than search for worms in the frozen soil, large winter flocks of robins will visit fruit trees for food.
  • Cedar Waxwings will visit yards in search of fruit, often staying for hours before moving on.
  • Juncos will hunt for fallen seed, often before dawn.
  • The smaller the bird, the earlier its hunt for food in the winter darkness.
  • In preparation of the earliest nesting period of any bird (late-January through February), Great Horned Owls can be heard hooting at night in courtship.
  • Now through late March is a difficult time for birds; providing food and an open source of water is important.
  • Winter is a great time to look for birds' nests. Admire the craftsmanship, but leave the nest in place.
  • Geminid Meteor Shower is mid-month.

Feed Our Local Birds!
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Moana Nursery | 1100 W. Moana Lane | 11301 S. Virginia St. | 7655 Pyramid Hwy. | Reno/Sparks | NV | 89509