Spinus spinus (Linnaeus, 1758) SK SISKI 16540
Family: Passeriformes > Fringillidae

Siskin, Edmund Fellowes

This acrobatic little finch is very much a bird of our pine forests, where its bright yellow rump glows against the dark trees.

Yellow-green with black streaks, the Siskin specialises in feeding on tree seed with those from pine trees particularly favoured, along with Alder and birch. When seeds in the wider countryside begin to run out, Siskins turn to gardens and can be seen feeding alongside some of our more familiar garden birds on our hanging feeders.

The Siskin breeds throughout Britain & Ireland, although it is less commonly found in central and eastern England than in other areas. In winter, Siskins can be found almost anywhere in Britain & Ireland, with breeding populations supplemented by arrivals from elsewhere in Europe.

Exploring the trends for Siskin

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Siskin population is changing.

trends explorer


Siskin identification is often straightforward. The following article may help when identifying Siskin.

related video

Identifying Green finches in your garden

Not all green finches are Greenfinches. There are a number of green and yellow finches that visit garden feeders, some common, some much more rare. Let us help you to discover the identity of an unfamiliar visitor - is it a Serin - or is it one of the more likely culprits?


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Siskin, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Flight call



Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses

Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.

Browse training courses

Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



The 1988-91 Breeding Atlas identified a major expansion of the breeding range into southern Britain (Gibbons et al. 1993) and subsequently there have been further considerable range gains, especially in the south and west (Balmer et al. 2013). Progressively more CBC plots became occupied during the 1970s and 1980s (Marchant et al. 1990), but samples were insufficient for annual monitoring until BBS began in 1994. Results since then show parallel fluctuations of extraordinary amplitude in England and Scotland. To some extent, this may reflect the occasional large continental influxes affecting spring numbers on a broad UK scale. There has been a decline across Europe since 1980 (PECBMS: PECBMS 2020a>).

Exploring the trends for Siskin

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Siskin population is changing.

trends explorer


Siskins are strongly associated with landscapes dominated by conifer plantations, particularly on moors, low hills and the lower slopes of the uplands. Accordingly breeding Siskins are found through most of Scotland and Wales and much of northern and southwest England, with a patchier distribution elsewhere. In Ireland they are more widespread in the western half of the country, with more-isolated pockets in the east and south.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2

Breeding Season Habitats

Relative frequency by habitat

Relative occurrence in different habitat types during the breeding season.

>Bar of similar size indicate the species is equally likely to be recorded in those habitats


Since the 1968–72 Breeding Atlas there has been a 166% range expansion, including gains in Wales, southern and southwestern England and large parts of Ireland. In Scotland, birds have spread into the northeast and onto the Northern Isles and Outer Hebrides. Abundance has also increased since the 1988–91 Breeding Atlas throughout Wales, Scotland and the western half of Ireland.

Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Siskin is recorded throughout the year.

Weekly occurence of Siskin from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.

An overview of year-round movements for the whole of Europe can be seen on the EuroBirdPortal viewer.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Siskin ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Siskin, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Exploring the trends for Siskin

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Siskin population is changing.

trends explorer


View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report

Exploring the trends for Siskin

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Siskin population is changing.

trends explorer


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Gealag-bhuidhe
Welsh: Pila Gwyrdd
Catalan: lluer eurasiàtic
Czech: cížek lesní
Danish: Grønsisken
Dutch: Sijs
Estonian: siisike
Finnish: vihervarpunen
French: Tarin des aulnes
German: Erlenzeisig
Hungarian: csíz
Icelandic: Barrfinka
Irish: Siscín
Italian: Lucherino
Latvian: kivulis, ciskens
Lithuanian: eurazinis alksninukas
Norwegian: Grønnsisik
Polish: czyz (zwyczajny)
Portuguese: lugre
Slovak: stehlík cížik
Slovenian: cižek
Spanish: Jilguero lúgano
Swedish: grönsiska
Folkname: Aberdevine, Barley-bird


Interpretation and scientific publications about Siskin from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

The main drivers of change for Siskin are uncertain. However increases in the availability of breeding habitat or the availability of winter food resources, or both, may have driven population increases.

Further information on causes of change

The maturing of new conifer plantations has aided the spread of breeding Siskins throughout the UK, from their previous stronghold in the Scottish Highlands, since about 1950. Their habit of using garden feeders, especially in late winter, has developed since the 1960s and, despite many winter birds in gardens migrating to the Baltic region to breed, may also have helped to boost the UK breeding population.

Information about conservation actions

The drivers of change for this species are unclear and therefore potential conservation actions to support this species are also unknown. The continued provision of garden bird food may help boost winter survival for UK (and also European) breeding populations, and rotational management of conifer plantations may help ensure breeding habitat continues to be available, but further research is required in order to define the habitat and food requirements for this species more precisely and hence identify specific conservation actions for both seasons.

Links to more information from

Would you like to search for another species?