Quick facts

Common names: siskin, European siskin, common siskin

Scientific name: Spinus spinus

Family: Fringillidae (finches)

Habitat: mixed and coniferous woodland

Diet: tree seeds and insects

Predators: sparrowhawks take adults; chicks and eggs are vulnerable to a range of predators

Origin: native

What do siskins look like?

Male siskins have a bright yellow breast and cheeks, and a black cap, while females are predominantly pale with dark streaks and traces of dull yellow. Both males and females have yellow-and-black-striped wings.

They are relatively small birds, between a blue tit and a robin in size. 

Siskin female feeding on alder cone

Credit: Ray Wilson / Alamy Stock Photo

What do siskins eat?

Tree seeds are the main food source for siskins, with those of alder, birch, spruce and pine all commonly taken. Insects supplement their diet in summer.

Did you know?

Siskins will often hang upside down to reach tree seeds.

How do siskins breed?

Siskins nest in trees, building the nest with twigs, moss and other soft materials. Four to five eggs are normally laid, hatching after around two weeks. The chicks stay in the nest for roughly another two weeks before fledging.

Siskin male on branch

Credit: Stephen Street / Alamy Stock Photo

Do siskins migrate?

Much of the UK’s siskin population stay here all year round, but winter will also see the arrival of migrants from northern Europe, which will leave again at the onset of spring.

Where do siskins live?

Siskins can be found in coniferous and mixed woodland across the UK, but are most numerous in Scotland and Wales. The species may range widely in winter as it searches for food, sometimes visiting garden bird feeders.

Siskin female on branch

Credit: Paul Crabtree / WTML

Signs and spotting tips

Look for siskins flitting around near the tops of trees as they search for food. In winter, they may join mixed flocks with lesser redpolls.

Siskin song

Audio: David Darrell-Lambert / xeno-canto.org

Did you know?

Over 400,000 pairs of siskin are thought to breed in the UK each year.

Threats and conservation

The siskin population is doing well, with a 61% increase recorded between 1995 and 2015. However, the loss of woodland habitat and the trees it relies on for food is a potential threat.