The Fall and Rise of Siskins in Captivity


Breeding siskins in captivity is not as difficult as it seems. In the past, siskins were kept in cages only as song birds or used to hybridize with Canaries. It is only recently that siskin breeder societies have hegun to appear and many species of these beautiful song birds are now being bred in their pure subspecies.

Although mutations of some siskin species are known (the Eurasian species Carduelis spinus, for example) breeding for mutations is not encourages hy most Carduelan societies. I have seen most of the mutations and that none are as pretty and majestic as the normally colored wild species.

Siskins are closely related to Canaries and, just as with Canaries, will not do well if you keep two pairs in one cabinet or aviary, They will most certainly not breed under these conditions. They are much too territorial. If breeding results are to be achieved, just one pair should he kept per aviary or cabinet.

It is also important to keep the various species and subspecies of siskins separate-hybridization does occur. In my opinion, every effort should he made to keep the 20 plus species of siskins pure in captivity.

Some siskin species, such as the Red Siskin ( Carduelis cucullatus) and the Saffron Siskin ( Carduelis siemeradzleii), are becoming rare or almost extinct in their native habitats. Others, the Yarrel Siskin (Carduelis yarrellii), for example, are known to he poor breeders in captivity-thus extremely


high priced when they are available,

All siskin species require a special diet of green, leafy foods with their basic dry seed mix and a generous supply of sunflower and niger seeds. Half-ripe green seeding millets and grasses are required when the birds care for young in the nests. Black Siskins (Spinus artratusi, especially, require seeds from certain South American plants such as Amaranthus which contain protein that is comparable in quality to animal protein and is complete in its balance of amino acids.

Being able to provide all this and offer a clean environment will ensure that the siskin species breed freely in captivity and provide excellent songs for their keepers throughout the breeding season.