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Siskin

Eurasian Siskin Male Siskin Male
Yellowish-green upperparts, yellow below and in wing. Black crown and bib.
Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.
Carduelis spinus
Length: 12 cm  (4½")
Wing Span: 20-23 cm  (8-9")
Weight: 12-18 g  (½ oz) Female Siskin Female
Like male but without black crown and bib.
Breeding Pairs: 300 000
Present: All Year
Status: Green

Description

The Siskin is a small finch, about the size of a Blue Tit and with similar agility.

They are generally yellowish-green and yellow with a dark streaked belly and striking yellow rump, wing bars and sides of the forked tail. The legs and bill are dark brown.

The male has a black cap and bib and bright yellow cheeks. The female does not have a black crown or bib and is more heavily streaked.

Juveniles have browner upperparts and are even more heavily streaked than the female.

The Siskin, particularly the female, is often confused with the Greenfinch, but the latter is bigger and lacks the dark streaks.

Voice

Choose from Quicktime and mp3. Call Song Flock
  Quicktime mp3 Quicktime mp3 Quicktime mp3

The sweet twittering of a flock of Siskins feeding among the trees is a pleasant sight and sound in the winter.

Feeding

Siskins are seed eaters and have smaller bills than the other finches and this reflects in their diet, which is mainly cone seeds such as birch, alder, spruce and pine.

They visit gardens when food is harder to find in their natural habitats and are especially attracted to red coloured feeders containing peanuts, seeds or fat.

Nesting

The female builds the nest, which will be high in a conifer tree. The nest is small and tidy, built from twigs covered with lichen, and lined with feathers, hair and fine roots.

The female alone incubates the eggs, which are smooth and glossy, pale blue with lilac and pink spots, and about 16 mm by 12 mm in size. Both parents feed the young.

Breeding Data
Breeding Starts Number of Clutches Number of Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
mid-March 2 2-6 11-14 13-15

Movements

Many British birds remain close to their breeding sites unless food is in short supply and then they move south, but they tend to be nomadic and so rarely visit the same areas in subsequent years.

Continental birds from the BENELUX countries, Germany, Scandinavia and even eastern Europe spend the winter in Britain.

Conservation

Coniferous forests were not well surveyed before the 1990s and so the long term trend in the Siskin population is not well known, but it appears that their numbers may have decreased in recent years.

My Garden

Graph of garden visits.

Siskins do not visit our garden all that often but it is always a delight when they do.


Last revision: 21 Feb 2015
Copyright © David Gains 1999-2015.
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