The Eurasian Siskin, or just Siskin in Europe, Carduelis spinus, is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae. The siskin is also known as the aberdevine in Europe.
This bird breeds across northern temperate Europe and into Russia. There is a separate population in eastern Asia. It is partially resident, but the northern breeders migrate further south in Europe in the winter. The eastern Asian birds winter in China or further south. In some years there are large eruptions into the wintering range, when the preferred food of alder or birch seed fails. This species will form large flocks outside the breeding season, often mixed with redpolls.
Coniferous woodland, especially Spruce, is favoured for breeding. It builds its nest in a tree, laying 2-6 eggs. The British range of this once local breeder has expanded greatly due to commercial conifer plantations.
The food is mainly seeds, as above, and, in the breeding season, insects. This small siskin is an acrobatic feeder, often hanging upside-down like a tit. It will visit garden bird feeding stations.
The Siskin is a small short-tailed bird, 11.5-12cm in length. The upper parts are greyish green and the under parts grey-streaked white. Its wings are black with a conspicuous yellow wing bar, and the tail is black with yellow sides. The male has a mainly yellow face and breast, with a neat black cap. Female and young birds have a greyish green head and no cap. The song of this bird is a pleasant mix of twitters and trills.
There is a similar and closely related North America counterpart, the Pine Siskin, Carduelis pinus.
- For a bronze statue of siskin in St. Petersburg, see Chizhik-Pyzhik.
- Ageing and sexing (PDF) by Javier Blasco-Zumeta
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