These photos arose from pure serendipity, as many photo ops do — just a short morning walk in our local park. I came upon a flock of Pine Siskins, devouring seeds from the nearby liquidambar/sweetgum trees.

Liquidambar is a beautiful tree sometimes demonized by humans for these spiky fruits. The pods are sharp under the feet, rolling trip hazards, and can become projectiles under a lawn mower. But that’s the anthropocentric view. For many animals, the dried fruits are a huge bounty of food this time of year.

These particular trees were filled with a mix of finches and chickadees. They blend in, so small and quiet, most people walked by without even noticing the huge numbers of birds, hanging onto the pods and digging in for breakfast.

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