The Red Siskin
, Carduelis cucullata
, is a
small passerine bird
finch is a resident breeding bird in tropical
South America in northern Colombia and northern
Venezuela (where it's called "cardenalito").
introduced population on Trinidad is believed
to be extinct, with no sightings since 1960.
has been given to this highly endangered species by the discovery
in 2003 of a population of several thousand birds in southern
Guyana, 1000 km from any previously known colony.
Otherwise the world population is believed to be between 600-6000
The Red Siskin is found in open country, forest edges and grassland
with trees or shrubs. The female is believed to lay 3 greenish
white eggs in a grassy cup nest in a tree. It was common in the
early twentieth century, occurring throughout the foothills of
northern Venezuela but has now become extremely rare in a
The Red Siskin is about 10 cm long. The male is mainly deep red,
with black on the head, throat, flight feathers and tail tip, and a
whitish lower belly and undertail. The female is grey on the head,
breast, and uppperparts, apart from a red rump and uppertail. The
breast is grey with reddish flanks, and the rest of the underparts,
the wings and tail resemble the corresponding areas of the male.
Immature females are paler than the adults, and immature males are
brown rather than red.
The call is a high-pitched chitter and sharp chi-tit
, and the male’s
song is a musical goldfinch-like
melody with twitters and trills.
Red Siskins eat seeds, and are highly gregarious. When they were
more numerous they formed semi-nomadic flocks.
The downfall of this siskin
has been massive
illegal trapping for the cage bird trade. This is an attractive
finch with a pleasant song, and its unique coloration for a small
finch (most are predominantly yellow) has led to it being used for
interbreeding with domesticated Canaries
produce varieties with red in the plumage.
- Database entry includes a range map and justification for why
this species is endangered. RangeMap:
- Birds of Venezuela by Hilty, ISBN 0-7136-6418-5
- Finches and Sparrows by Clement, Harris and Davis,