Siskin (Carduelis spinus) Profile

A small finch which is 12cm in length, the siskin (Carduelis spinus) boasts a distinctive forked tail and narrow bill. The male has a streaky yellow-green body together with a black crown and bib. There are yellow bars in the wings and tail. The female is grey-green and lacks the black cap. Look for siskins in coniferous and mixed woodland towards the tops of the trees.

What is the siskin’s distribution and population?

Siskins are principally resident breeders and they are joined by birds from Europe in winter. They can be seen in Scotland and Wales throughout the year. In England, they are more common in winter due to the arrival of the migrating birds. There are 410, 000 breeding pairs in the UK and siskins are not of conservation concern as their population has increased in recent years.

What do siskins eat?

These birds eat seeds, especially those of conifers, alders, and birch together with some insects. In the winter months, they form groups with lesser redpolls and feed on seeds in woodland. Siskins are regular visitors to garden feeders. They favour niger seed and peanuts.

Where do siskins nest?

The female siskin builds a neat nest high up in a conifer tree. This is constructed from twigs, lichen and feathers. She incubates 2-6 eggs alone for 11-14 days. Both parents feed the chicks which fledge after 13-15 days.

Did you know?

Siskins will breed with canaries. This behaviour has been influenced by humans keeping siskins as caged birds.

Siskins will often hang upside down to reach tree seeds.

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