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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Siskin

Hebrides bird sightings - Siskin male
Male Siskin

Hebrides bird sightings - Siskin female
Female Siskin

 

Siskin

(European siskin, Eurasian siskin)

Carduelis spinus

Gaelic: Gealag Bhuidhe


Photography © Frank Stark
Leurbost - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
25th & 26 April, 2008


March April 2008 BTO Press Release:

Help chart Scandinavian invasion...

The Siskin has crossed the North Sea in large numbers this winter in search of food and is finding it at feeding stations around the country. The British Trust for Ornithology, who monitor the movements of Britain’s birds, would like to know the true extent of this invasion.....

If you have seen a Siskin in your garden, or indeed several Siskins, the BTO wants to know. The Siskin one of the smallest members of the finch family, normally feeds on pinecone seeds in the Scandinavian forests. This winter the pine trees have produced a very poor crop, prompting these birds to cross the North Sea and invade Britain’s gardens.

Results from the BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch survey show that late March and early April is the best time to see Siskins in gardens. The Trust is already receiving reports from people that are seeing Siskins in their gardens, and would like to know how widespread this year’s invasion is. Paul Stancliffe, of the Garden BirdWatch Team, said, “We know that there are a lot of Siskins around. What we don’t know is just how many birds are involved and how far across the country they have spread. We could be talking about one the largest invasions of this bird for many years.”

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"I read about the Siskin invasion on your website and i thought you might like to now that my garden in Leurbost was invaded by one hungry individual this morning...". 25th April, 2008

Next day: "i was" invaded" by 5 siskins.....I have attached an inmage of one of the males on, yes, you have guessed, the super duper R>S.P.B nyjer seed feeder. I bought the damn thing to try and keep the goldfinches alive during winter and i think every species of bird in my garden has been on it except the goldies..."

Frank


Our Siskin photographs

Siskin Female
Siskin Female
Siskin
Siskin
Siskin
 
Siskin
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Siskin
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Siskin
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Siskin
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Siskin
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Siskin Male
Siskin Male
Siskin Male
Siskin Male
Siskin Male
Siskin Male

Siskin
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Siskin
male

Siskin
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Siskin
male

Siskin
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Siskin
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Siskin Juveniles
Siskin Juvenile
       

Siskin
juveniles

Siskin
juvenile

       

 

  • Siskin
  • Carduelis spinus
  • Gaelic: Gealag Bhuidhe
  • UK: Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • UK: 369,000 pairs summer BTO
  • WI: Scarce (1-9 breeding pairs) migrant breeder, and scarce (very small numbers recorded in most years, sometimes a few more) passage visitor
  • Breeds: Northern Europe - UK including Scotland, Russia, Asia
  • Winters: South Europe, Central Asia (favours riverside alders)
  • Habitat: Woodland treetops (prefers coniferous) (On passage here: Often tall & dense, seedy undergrowth)
  • Diet: Seeds (prefers spruce & pine) alder, birch, (summer - insects)
  • Small finch: Upper parts greyish-green, under parts grey-streaked white. Short, forked tail. Wings & tail have yellow patches. Male: More yellow-green body & yellower face, black cap & bib. Female & young birds greyish-green heads & no cap. Birds in flight show yellow wing bars. Gregarious out of breeding season (forms mixed flocks often with Redpolls)
  • Listen to Siskin (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds Greenfinch, Serin (not on the Outer Herbrides Birds Checklist)

 

Siskins are traditionally associated with the Caledonian Pine Forest. Although a resident breeder from Northern Scotland to Southern England, Siskins are most numerous in Scotland and Wales. In winter more birds arrive in the UK from Europe.

Siskins have done well from the massive increase in commercial plantings of conifers over the last 25 years (pine seed being their favorite food), as the amount of acreage under pine plantation has doubled, Siskin numbers in the UK have gone from 40,000 pairs to 360,000 pairs.

In previous times the Siskin was less fortunate, the combination of its attractiveness, song and tameness led to it being often taken as a caged songbird.

 

Siskins are renowed for feeding in an upside down position. They seem fond of peanuts, but will eat most seeds (particulary tree seeds) and insects. The Siskin has a quite longish beak for a seed eating bird, a useful tool for extracting pine seeds.

Eating at the bird table represents a major shift in behaviour for Siskins, and was only first recorded in 1961. Before then they were rarely seen in gardens. This change caught on amongst the species and helped the birds through some of the worst winters on record.

 

The Siskin is a little finch, only 12 to13cm long. A house sparrow is quite a lot bigger at 14 -15cm.

Male Siskin's have a black crown and smallish black bib. They also have heavily streaked olive-green backs. Green-yellow underneath going to almost white on the belly and underneath the tail. Yellow on the sides of the black tail and a yellow rump.

Females are similar but less yellow.

 

Siskin records in the Western Isles

Scarce (1-9 breeding pairs) migrant breeder, and scarce (very small numbers recorded in most years, sometimes a few more) passage visitor
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)


The chart below shows how abundant the Siskin is during a month or when you are more likely to see it.

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)

 

 

Frank's web site of his nature photography
www.frankstark.com

Other local bird photographs

Sources of information for the bird sightings section


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