Siskin - Carduelis Spinus
The Eurasian siskin (Spinus spinus) is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae. It is also called the European siskin, common siskin or just siskin. Other (archaic) names include black-headed goldfinch, barley bird and aberdevine. It is very common throughout Europe and Asia. It is found in forested areas, both coniferous and mixed woodland where it feeds on seeds of all kinds, especially of alder and conifers.
These birds have an unusual migration pattern as every few years in winter they migrate southwards in large numbers. The reasons for this behaviour are not known but may be related to climatic factors and above all the availability of food. In this way overwintering populations can thrive where food is abundant. This small finch is an acrobatic feeder, often hanging upside-down like a tit. It will visit garden bird feeding stations.
These birds can be found throughout the year in Central Europe and some mountain ranges in the south of the continent. They are present in the north of Scandinavia and in Russia and they over-winter in the Mediterranean basin and the area around the Black Sea. In China they breed in the Khingan Mountains of Inner Mongolia and in Jiangsu province; they spend summer in Tibet, Taiwan, the valleys of the lower Yangtse River and the south east coast.
The Eurasian siskin is occasionally seen in North America. There is also a similar and closely related North America counterpart, the pine siskin, Spinus pinus.
heir seasonal distribution is also marked by the fact that they follow an anomalous migration pattern. Every few years they migrate southwards in larger numbers and the overwintering populations in the Iberian Peninsula are greatly augmented. This event has been the object of diverse theories, one theory suggests that it occurs in the years when Norway Spruce produces abundant fruit in the centre and north of Europe, causing populations to increase. An alternative theory is that greater migration occurs when the preferred food of alder or birch seed fails. This species will form large flocks outside the breeding season, often mixed with redpolls.
It is a bird that does not remain for long in one area but which varies the areas it used for breeding, feeding, over-wintering from one year to the next.
They are very active and restless birds. They are also very social, forming small cohesive flocks especially in autumn and winter. They are fairly trusting of humans, it being possible to observe them from a short distance. During the breeding season, however, they are much more timid, solitary and difficult to observe.