Zeisig / Siskin
Zeisig, Erlenzeisig / Sisken / Tarin des aulnes / Carduelis spinus

Carduelis Spinus

Siskin male

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Genus: Carduelis
Species: C. spinus
Carduelis spinus
Linnaeus, 1758
Carduelis spinus female
Siskin female

Carduelis spinus jv


The relatives

Carduelis pinus
Pine siskin (Spinus pinus)

Carduelis barbata
Black-chinned Siskin
(Carduelis barbata)

Sisken / Zeisig, Erlenzeisig / Carduelis spinus
Finken Fringillidae

Weighing just 13 - 15 grams this is a well-known bird. Not because he is so often seen in nature, but because he is a popular caged bird. Earlier, they were available in most pet shops. Due to their social nature, they are easily and quickly tamed. Even wild birds become tame, bringing the bird-lover much enjoyment. The siskin can be long-lived as well. I know one owner who has had a bird for fourteen years.

The male is easily distinguished from other green finches by his black forehead and bib. The siskin nests mostly in mountainous regions where they prefer tall firs or other evergreens. The nest is built on side branches of tree tops, a weave of fine roots, twigs, webs and moss. The nest is very well camouflaged, making it almost impossible to find.

he nest is lined with plant silk, hairs, and feathers. The female chooses the nesting site, brings the materials, and builds the nest alone. The male sings, brings food, and grooms and feeds the female. He also has a curious mating flight. While singing, he flies high over the treetop, and makes several circles with puffed out feathers and spread tail. Meanwhile, he flaps his wings so high, that they smack together over his body. The siskin has two broods per year, in April and in June. Each time the female lays 4-6 bluish-white eggs, which are lightly speckled with red-brown. The female does all of the brooding, and the male feeds her from his crop.
After 13 days the young hatch, and are fed tender insects, followed later by seed which is first softened in the parents' crop. At 13 - 15 days the young leave the nest. The siskin song is well known to bird lovers, and some males imitate other birds' songs as well. The males sing not only during courting, as many related birds do, but also throughout the year, except during the moult. This quality has contributed greatly to the bird's popularity.

After nesting, usually sometime in August the siskins from large flocks, and their calls make them obvious. They are to be found everywhere that elder, birch, and similar seeds are present. They climb and often hang head-down to extract the seeds. They flock often with redpolls that overwinter in Germany, and in colder weather feed on buds. In May they give up the gypsy life and return to their breeding grounds.

Care and breeding:
The siskin begins breeding very early. The female begins building the nest at the end of February or beginning of March, laying one egg a day until 3-6 eggs are in the nest. The female incubates the eggs alone for 11-13 days, during which time she is fed by the male. The babies stay in the nest for 11-14 days, but continue to be fed for another 10 days. Siskins are excellent for beginners. While feeding the young, a diet including a wide variety of greens, aphids, and mealworms is important. A good wild bird mix consisting of different wildseed should of course always be available. I also provide poppy seed in a separate feeder.

Status in Britain:
Fairly widespread resident and winter visitor. Has increased in the last thirty years or so due to conifer plantations.


Spinus Pinus

Three subspecies:

Spinus pinus macropterus - N. Baja California to north E. & C. Mexico

Spinus pinus perplexus - S. Mexico to Guatemala

Spinus pinus pinus - Canada, USA & C. Mexico

This brownish bird is heavily streaked with gray and black, with black being on its primary flights and tail feathers. Pine Siskins are about the size of the European Siskins. They adapt well and will breed freely in captivity. Over the years I have been trying to obtain information about the three subspecies and their difference in size and color but no one seems to know, even some Ornithological Societies and Museums could not give me the answer. There's no need to emphasize that information about smaller birds is more often not available, but for some reason all information needed is always there about the larger birds like the Eagles and Macaws.



6-7million birds live in Europe, as far north as northern Scandinavia.

A stable population of 25,000 - 100,000 birds lives in Germany.

Quelle ©BirdGuides 2001 und NABU

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