Eurasian siskins. Peter Jones
Eurasian siskin
Andalusian Bird Watch

Eurasian siskin

The Andalucía Bird Society recommends looking out for the Carduelis spinus this month

Peter Jones


Friday, 24 November 2023, 17:08


Although a frequent winter visitor, it might surprise readers to learn that siskins have been recorded breeding in the region of Andalucía, notably the Sierra de Cazorla and the Serranía de Ronda in the Betic Range. Breeding has been opportunistic and has corresponded to there being good seed crops on conifers, also noted during a breeding season that has followed the arrival of large numbers visiting during the winter.

Siskins do breed in northern Spain but are scarce. They are certainly widespread as a migrant and winter visitor throughout the whole peninsula, although numbers can fluctuate with each winter. As with some other of our winter visitors i.e. Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla), Siskins can sometimes arrive in huge numbers, often referred to as irruptions and this normally occurs after highly successful breeding seasons followed by a scarcity of food in their northern territories.

For the largest part, winter populations tend to be nomadic and only a small percentage will settle into any one area for the duration of winter. Recoveries have included birds with origins in most western and central European countries with some from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Baltic States; a high proportion of these recoveries show origins in Fennoscandia and Russia, that is 34 per cent.

Our first birds tend to arrive in October and continue through November; there is evidence some these birds will continue south to both Algeria and Morocco. Most of these wintering birds will depart during March with stragglers being seen during April. Certainly, these elegant small finches add to our winter thrills of birding here and perhaps we ought to pay a little more attention in the summer months to see if we might add to areas where they have bred in the region.

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