Key facts

Scientific name: Carduelis spinus

Status: Resident breeding species and winter visitor

Breeding birds: 410,000 pairs

Conservation status: Green

Length: 11 – 12 cm

Wingspan: 20 – 23 cm

Weight: 12 – 18 g


Siskins are yellow-green finches with dark streets on its belly. They have bright yellow rumps, wing bars and tail edges.

Male siskins have a black cap and black bib. Females have more streaks and juveniles have brown upper parts and more streaks than females.


Female siskins build nests usually high up in conifer trees. The nest is small and made from twigs, heather, grass, moss and cobwebs lined with hair, fur and feathers.

Siskins lay 2-6 eggs which are smooth and glossy and pale blue with pink or light purple spots.

The eggs are incubated for 11-14 days by the female and the chicks fledge at 13-15 days.


Siskins are seed eaters and are particularly dependent on spruce during breeding season as well as alders and birch. They will supplement their diet with insects.

Siskins will visit gardens in winter for food if seed crops have been poor.


Where to see them

Siskins can be seen during breeding season across Scotland and Wales.

During the winter they are also seen in England.


Frank Holzapfel/xeno-canto

Did you know?

There is a German legend which says that siskins guard a magic stone in their nests that makes them invisible because they become so elusive during breeding season.

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Identification guides

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