© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Kari Pihlaviita, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.


Spinus spinus

  • Name also: Common Siskin, European Siskin, Eurasian Siskin
  • Latin synonym: Carduelis spinus
  • Family: Finches – Fringillidae
  • Appearance: A small finch with yellow, green and black colouring. Yellow most prominent on head, breast, wings tripe, rump and edge to tail (similar to tail markings on Greenfinch). Flanks marked with distinct dark streaks.
  • Size: Length 11–12.5 cm, weight 10–15 g.
  • Nest: Usually in a spruce tree on a branch far from the trunk at a height of 1.5–20 metres. Made of thin dry spruce twigs, lichen, bark scales, grass and spider’s web, lined with hair and root fibres.
  • Breeding: 4–6 eggs laid in April, incubated by female for 11–14 days. Fledglings remain in nest for 15 days. Pairs fairly commonly raise second brood in June–July.
  • Distribution: Breeds in mixed and coniferous forests. Absent only in treeless uplands of Lapland. Finnish breeding population estimated at 700,000–2,000,000 pairs. Numbers vary greatly depending on the availability of spruce seeds.
  • Migration: By day. Autumn migration September–October, returning March–May. Winters in Western and Central Europe and around the Mediterranean. Varying numbers of Siskins also spend the winter in Finland.
  • Diet: Mainly spruce and pine seeds, in autumn and winter also alder and birch seeds. Also feeds on dandelions and thistles in the summer. A regular visitor to bird tables.
  • Calls: A prolonged “tsvii” like the creaking of a swing. Song rapid and twittering.

Siskins are small members of the finch family with yellow, black and green colouring. They have yellow colouring most prominently on their heads, breasts, wing stripes, rumps and the edges to their tails (similar to the tail markings of the Greenfinch). Their flanks are marked with distinct dark streaks. Males have black caps and small black bibs. Females’ caps are greenish and streaked. Females have no black bibs. Juveniles resemble females, but are more streaked and have less yellow colouring. Siskins’ tails are short and clearly forked. Their legs are brown, their beaks are pinkish brown, and their irises are dar brown.

Other species from the same family

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