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Key Information

Scientific Name: Carduelis spinus 

Bird Family: Finches

UK Breeding Birds: 410,000

UK Conservation Status: Green

The Eurasian siskin is a small passerine bird belonging to the finch family. This species is widely distributed across Europe and Asia, with various subspecies adapting to different geographical regions. The siskin is known for its distinctive plumage, lively behaviour, and melodious song.

What does a siskin look like?

Eurasian siskins are small birds, typically measuring about 11–12.5cm in length, with a wingspan of 20–24 cm and weighing between 12–18 grams. Adult siskin males exhibit vibrant and striking plumage. They have a dark greenish-black cap and a bright yellow-green body with prominent black streaks. The wings and tail are black with yellow edges. Females and juveniles, on the other hand, have more subdued plumage, with duller greens and less distinct streaking. Their bills are short and conical, adapted for cracking seeds.

What do siskins eat?

Siskins are primarily granivores with a diet heavily reliant on seeds. They have a particular fondness for the seeds of conifer trees, mainly spruce and pine. Additionally, they may feed on various other seeds, such as niger seeds and sunflowers hearts. They may expand their diet to eating insects, especially during the breeding season when protein-rich food is essential for their young.

What should I feed siskins?

The following variety of bird food is excellent for feeding siskins and attracting them into gardens.

Where do siskins nest?

Eurasian Siskins are known for their secretive nesting habits. They build cup-shaped nests in the outer branches of conifer trees, using twigs, moss, and feathers, expertly camouflaging them within the foliage. Siskins do not use nest boxes.

How many eggs do siskins have?

The typical clutch size for siskins consists of 4–6 eggs, which are pale blue or greenish in colour and speckled. The female is primarily responsible for incubating the eggs, which lasts for approximately 12–14 days. Once the chicks hatch, both parents feed and care for them. From hatching to leaving the nest, the fledging period lasts about 15–21 days.

Do siskins migrate?

Yes, some siskins in the UK are migratory. While many stay in the country year-round, especially in milder regions, some siskins are migratory and move south to spend the winter. During autumn and winter, siskins from Scandinavia and other northern parts of Europe migrate to the UK for food and milder climates. These migratory populations can significantly boost the number of siskins seen in the UK during this period.

How common are siskins?

Eurasian siskins are considered relatively common, especially during winter, when others fly to the UK from colder parts of Europe. They are widespread across the country, with sightings reported from various habitats, including woodlands, parks, gardens, and even urban areas with suitable vegetation.