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My Spirit Animal, The Pine Siskin

April 17, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

I do not presume to understand cultures that embrace spirit animals, nor do I presume to understand or feel anything of their spirituality, intent or validity. I am however an expert on one thing,............myself,..............and maybe I understand and feel more than I think I do.

I was with a conference in Gimli Manitoba many years ago at a delightful hotel beside Lake Winnipeg. During a break I took a stroll and ran across an ornamental shrub loaded up with berries. The shrub was also loaded up with a small delightful bird that was tame enough to ignore me entirely as it fed on the berries. I had no bird identification book so I phoned Laura and between my description and her study of the birds in the book we concluded that the bird was a Pine Siskin.

That was the day that I was introduced to and felt the spirit of Nature. I had been on many wilderness hikes and experiences previous to this event but nothing stuck to me like this day did. I became a naturalist that day.

As I developed my interest in birds and other aspects of nature I also became a back yard bird feeder. This can be a very expensive hobby. Our backyard was invaded by Pine Siskins and I had to keep adding niger feeders to keep up with the influx of siskins until I had eight niger feeders in a circle perhaps encompassing a four metre diameter. Well, I couldn't resist so I placed a chair in the centre of this feeding melee and just sat there. Sure enough the Pine Siskins flew about me, landing on my arms, shoulders, my lap and the top of my head and constantly singing their "weeeee" song. It was right out of a fairy tale.

Eventually, after a month or so they left save for a few stragglers. Thank goodness since one to two hundred Pine Siskins can consume a lot of very expensive niger seed.

This is where the story and my experience gets interesting and for me, spiritual.

One of the Pine Siskins flew into a window and broke its collar bone and could no longer fly. I took it to a veterinarian at the Winnipeg Zoo and after about four weeks she phoned me to tell me that they would be releasing the bird at my front yard. Releasing a healed bird at the location where it was found is standard procedure and has surprising results as I soon found out.

I watched her release the Pine Siskin and it flew without hesitation to our backyard and landed on a wire, and believe this or not, it touched bills at the tip with another Pine Siskin that was waiting there for it, or so it seemed. Was the second Pine Siskin a mate?

Since the injury caused the wing to droop slightly on the side where the collar bone broke we could always identify this Pine Siskin. "Cee..cee", our name for the Pine Siskin, remained with us for another month and its flight was not impaired in any way that we could see.

And so as the story ends the Pine Siskin became Hans's Spirit animal.

Pine Siskin