Andean siskin | American birds

   ›      ›   Birds of South America - Andean siskin - Spinus spinescens

The Andean siskin (Spinus spinescens) belongs to the family of finches and siskins, the Fringillidae.

The Andean siskin species is distributed over Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela in South America. These siskin species are sexually dimorphic and the adult males have a distinctive black cap. These siskins are polytypic species.
Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Andean Siskin Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Andean siskin (Spinus spinescens) is a small-sized siskin, measuring 9 to 11 cm in length and weighing about 11 grams.

The Andean siskin has overall dull yellowish green plumage. The wings have yellow flashes and black patches. The tail is slightly forked. The adult males have a distinctive black cap, which is lacking in females.

The bill is thick and pale yellowish gray. The irises are blackish. The legs and feet are gray in color. The call of these species is a high-pitched metallic notes and rolling trilling sound.
South American bird - Photo of Andean siskin - Spinus spinescens
1.South American bird - Photo of Andean siskin - Spinus spinescens by Antonio Arnaiz-Villena

South American bird - Photo of Andean siskin - Spinus spinescens
2.South American bird - Photo of Andean siskin - Spinus spinescens by Alejandro Bayer Tamayo

South American bird - Photo of Andean siskin - Spinus spinescens
3.South American bird - Photo of Andean siskin - Spinus spinescens by Alejandro Bayer Tamayo

Origin, geographical range and distribution

These Andean siskin species are distributed in South America (Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela). The subspecies S. s. nigricauda (known as western Andean siskin) is distributed in western Colombia and northern Ecuador.

The nominate Andean siskin subspecies S. s. spinescens (known as eastern Andean siskin) is distributed in Colombia and west and north Venezuela.

Some of the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of these species in Colombia are, Alto Quindío, Cañón del Río Guatiquía, Cuenca del Río Toche, Puracé Natural National Park, Reserva Natural Ibanasca and Soatá.

The IBA of these siskins in Venezuela are, Parque Nacional Sierra Nevada, Parque Nacional Sierra La Culata, Parque Nacional El Tamá, Monumento Natural Pico Codazzi and Dinira National Park and surrounding areas.

The IBA of these siskin species in Ecuador are, Intag-Toisán, El Ángel - Cerro Golondrinas, Mindo and western foothills of Volcan Pichincha and Estación Biológica Guandera-Cerro Mongus.

Ecosystem and habitat

These Andean siskin species have moderate forest dependence. They normally occur in altitudes from 1500 to 4000 meters.

The artificial ecosystems and habitats of these species include heavily degraded forests, plantations, agricultural lands, rural gardens and pasturelands.

The natural ecosystems and habitats of these Andean siskin species include tropical and subtropical moist montane forests, edges of open cloud-forests, tropical and subtropical high altitude grasslands and high altitude shrublands.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these Andean siskin species consists mainly of plant matter. A variety of seeds of wild plants, flowers and other plant material are their primary food. They forage on the ground and on the lower branches.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these Andean siskin species is from April to August in much of their range. Not much is known about their other breeding habits.

Migration and movement patterns

These Andean siskin species are non-migratory resident birds. The populations in high altitudes may move to lower levels in winter.

Post breeding, the juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. Within their range they may make local movements for feeding and breeding.

Andean siskin - Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Spinus spinescens
  • Species author: (Bonaparte, 1851)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Chrysomitris spinescens Bonaparte, 1850
  • Family: Fringillidae › Passeriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Andean siskin, Chinese: 安第斯金翅雀, French: Tarin des Andes, German: Andenzeisig, Spanish: Jilguero andino, Russian: Андский чиж, Japanese: アンデスヒワ
  • Other names: Andean Siskin
  • Distribution: Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela
  • Diet and feeding habits: seeds, flowers, plant material
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the Andean siskin (Spinus spinescens) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of the species is considered to be stable.

In most of its range, this siskin species is reported as 'fairly common but patchily distributed' (Stotz et al. 1996). The generation length is 4.2 years. Its distribution size is about 480,000

Habitat alteration, fragmentation and destruction, deforestation, human intrusions and disturbance are the main threats that are endangering the survival of these species.

IUCN and CITES status

The Andean siskin (Spinus spinescens) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable, either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the siskin species and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the Andean siskin (Spinus spinescens).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Spinus spinescens
Species:S. spinescens
Binomial name:Spinus spinescens
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The Andean siskin (Spinus spinescens) is believed to be closely related to yellow-faced siskin (Spinus yarrellii).
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1.Andean siskin photo source: (cropped)
Photo author: Antonio Arnaiz-Villena | License: CC BY-SA 1.0 as on 6/11/18
2.Photo source: (cropped)
Photo author: Alejandro Bayer Tamayo | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 6/11/18
3.Photo source: (cropped)
Photo author: Alejandro Bayer Tamayo | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 6/11/18
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