In Bolivia alone we have five recognized species of Siskins plus two subspecies of Hooded Siskins but we wouldn't be exaggerating if saying that there could be as many as
five subspecies, Spinus magellanicus alleni merging with Spinus magellanicus santacrucis
east of Santa cruz, Spinus magellanicus tucumanus merging with Spinus magellanicus bolivianus in Potosi region and Spinus magellanicus urubambensis merging with Spinus magellanicus bolivianus in the La Paz region. Unfortunately there are no Siskin breeders in Bolivia or at least the ICS members from Peru, Brazil, Chile and Argentina didn't know of any so we have to depend on Siskin enthusiasts who are traveling through those regions to provide us with information, photos and the description of those subspecies.
I am not sure if S. m. santacrucis really is a subspecie, it is very similar
if not identical to the S. m. alleni.
I cannot thank enough people from Peru, Venezuela,
Brazil, Argentina and Chile who have already helped.
I hope the members of the International Carduelan Society cooperate with
each other, providing
each-other with new ideas and information
that we all at times need, especially on feeding, breeding and maintenance of different species in captivity, if I can help in any way I am only an E-mail away. Last year I made arrangements with Dr.
V. Barbosa to meet in Santa Cruz
(Bolivia) in February this year (2001), due to some personal commitments I informed him that I wasn't able to make it. Couple of weeks later I received
E-mail from Dr. V. Barbosa saying that he will be going to Santa Cruz anyhow and that he will try to obtain some photos of Siskins if he finds them. Below are
some of his beautiful and interesting photos that he has sent us.
Markets in Santa Cruz
South American Parrotlets she just bought
Spinus atratus: or Black Siskin
is found from about Lima in Peru south to Antofogasta and Santiago in Chile,
east to Bolivia from La Paz to Potosi, south in Argentina to Jujuy, Salta, Tucuman to about Mendoza.
The normally yellow wing bar, in some birds is white but that is due to
their diet and a lack of pigmentation, they are not subspecies. Some birds
can be up to16mm larger. The difference in size is apparently seen in birds
throughout their range, they are not birds from any particular geographical
locations. Some verification is still needed on this.
Spinus m. alleni
Photo by: Dr. Venceslau Barbosa
Note: the bird is completely yellow, no white feathers on its
Spinus m. santacrucis: Tropical zone province of Santa Cruz. They are much smaller than the S. m.
bolivianus, about the size os S. m. alleni but much darker above, similar but even darker than the S. m.
bolivianus. Some Ornithologists claim that the S. m. santacrucis is another form of S. m.
Photo: by C. Almeida
The difference between the S. m. ictericus on
the left and the S. m. alleni on the right.
Spinus m. bolivianus: Range from Cochabamba southwards to Potosi region where they integrate with S.m. tucumanus. S. m. bolivianus are the largest of all eleven Hooded Siskin subspecies, the wing averaging 75mm. Their description is not consistent, it appears that there is excessive variations in the color of their plumage in both sexes. Some males having black hood extending and fully covering their breast and in other individuals the yellow invades the black almost to the chin.
Photo by: C. Almeida
S. m. ictericus (above), the tertials have white edging, while in the S. m. alleni
the tips of the tertials wing feathers are black.
Its common name is Thick-billed Siskin, they range from about Tingo Maria southwards to
Cuzco, Puno and Tacna in Peru. In Bolivia from La Paz to Cochabamba and
south to Potosi. Southwards to Santiago in Chile. Eastwards in Argentina from
Jujuy south to about Mendoza. I don't think there's need to describe the Thick-billed Siskins except to say that there are two subspecies S. c. crassirostris and S. c. amadoni and another yet unnamed subspecie which was mentioned in Neil Krabbes book, which he discovered somewhere in northern Peru.
S. c. amadoni is smaller than the S. c. crassirostris and
it is found mainly in Peru but it has been reported as far east as to Cochabamba. The unnamed specie is still a mystery to all of us but luckily there are Siskin breeders in Lima and north of Lima so let's hope that someone will come up with a photograph sooner or later. If anyone out there can
help with the description of the new subspecies please let me know.
Female and Male S. m. alleni
Photos by: Dr.Venceslau Barbosa
The females of other subspecies are more olive-green comparing to S. m.
alleni female which is more olive yellow. No white edging on the tertials.
Dry Coca leafs is used as tea, recommended for people suffering from altitude sickness.
Photos by: J. Quatro
These birds are from my stock, probably S. m. magellanica. Notice the
amount of white on its ventral area.
Photos by: J. Quatro
In some females, mouse-gray hood is
clearly visible, in some ear coverts are gray while others are all olive
Pair of S. m. alleni
Tarcisio with his S. m. alleni
Photo by: Jaime Cano
the Paroaria dominicana (Pope Cardinal)
Spinus xanthogaster stejnegeri: but better known by their common name the large Yellow-bellied Siskin which is native to the sub-tropical zones of Bolivia from La Paz to Santa
Cruz, S. x. stejnegeri is just a little larger that the S. x. xanthogaster and it can be distinguished by the black extending onto the sides of the breast and the
flanks in the up side down "U" shape or a horseshoe.
We need a photo!
Photo by: J. Quatro
Spinus magellanicus magellanicus
This photo was taken by me in Buenos Aires (Argentina), white
belly is clearly visible.
Spinus uropygialis: or better known as the Yellow-rumped Siskin ranges from about Lima in Peru southwards to Santiago in Chile,
east to Bolivia from La Paz to Potosi region and southwards in Argentina to about Mendoza.
Photos by: Dr. D. Mendoza
Photo1: Believe it or not but there's a flock of Siskins somewhere in the photo
Photo2: Santa Juliana farm - rich with bird life
Photos by: J. Quatro
Peruvian C. m. capitalis
These birds have lot more bright yellow in their plumage then most other
South American Subspecies. The male can be recognized from other subspecies by the
slightly brighter yellow margin around
the black hood.
In this subspecies males don't have white belly and the hens do. I collected and photographed these birds near Lima.
Siskin from Argentina
This photo was sent to me by a breeder from Buenos Aires, note it has hardly
any mottling on its back and wings, at first I thought it was S. m.
tucumanus but that couldn't be right or is it? My assumption is that S. m. tucumanus is by far much duller than
this yellow bird.
Can anyone verify this?
Spinus olivacea: commonly known as the Olivaceous
Siskins. It ranges from Colombia southwards through Ecuador to Cuzco in Peru,
eastwards in Bolivia from La Paz to Cochabamba but reported as far east as to Santa Cruz.
Venezuelan Hooded Siskin (Spinus magellanicus longirostris
These photos were sent to me by Dr. Ortega from Venezuela, these are the
only photos ever published of the S. m. longirostris native to Guyana
and eastern Venezuela. This subspecie is recognized by their longer bill,
their abdomen is all yellow similar to the S. m. alleni. In most reference
books they were described to be similar to the S. m. ictericus but as you
can see they are much smaller and are almost identical to the S. m. alleni. Their
flight feathers are all black without the white edging, while the S. m.
ictericus and the S. m. magellanicus have white edging on their tertials.
Photo by: V. Yabar
Wild C.m.urubambensis netted in Urubamba Valley
Museum specimen of the C.m.urubambensis in comparison to the
and the C.siemiradzkii. As you can see there's not much difference in the
size of the
C.m longirostrus and the C.siemiradzkii but the color of the rump in
is much brighter yellow.
Note: The backs are all olive green and not brown as this photo suggests.
The under side of the male C.siemiradzkii is much brighter yellow then in
longirostris. The female C.m.siemiradzkii has white belly which is typical
to all North-western South American species.
Saffron Siskins (C.siemiradzkii)
Photo by: J. Quatro
This is a fully grown young Red Siskin.
C.m.longirostris and the C.siemiradzkii are about the same size.
Photo by: J. Quatro
This is the size of a fully grown C.m.magellanica
Photo by: V. Yabar
C.m.olivacea, white wing edging are clearly visible on both in males and
C.m.olivacea males do not have white belly, therefore are easily
distinguishable from the
C. m. magellanica.
C.m.paula, slight white edging is visible on this bird.
I still need photos of subspecies
native to Ecuador and Colombia - (Spinus m. paula),
Also C.m boliviana and the C.m.tucumana.
We often wonder what happens to the Aviary birds escapees, do they survive
or do they perish. I would say that more than 50% of escapees perish in
their first 24 hours of their newly found freedom simply because while kept
in the Aviary they lose their sense of alertness that a wild bird needs to
survive. Escapees look very clumsy when they find them selves outside,
attracting too much attention by waging their tail or just vocalizing. Their
color is often a complete giveaway to the local territorial birds or
to the skilled predators like the Butcher Birds, Crows, Hawks etc. Over the
years I had variety of wild birds nesting on my property birds like the
Black and White Flycatcher, Doves, Black Birds etc which were also taken by
the wild predators. For a long time I could not figure it out why are their
newly fledged young disappearing virtually on daily basis. I really enjoyed
feeding Black and White Flycatcher hen which was so tame she would land on
my hand swallow six to nine meal worms I always had for her, take them
to her young in the nest then come back for more. When the youngsters
fledged she often had them lined up on the clothes line, always hungry
begging for food. One day as I was feeding my Aviary birds I noticed a Grey
Butcher Bird (about the size of a common European starling) snatch the last
one of the five youngsters she had. Only two days later the mother hen bird
herself also disappeared, I could see the male flying around calling her but
she didn't show up I presumed the Butcher Bird must have taken her as well.
Over the next six months some young doves disappeared and two clutches of
newly fledged Black Birds didn't last for more than a week. Black Birds are
always welcome to my garden their song is sweet flute-like tune, something
extraordinary to listen to which is often heard at dusk. Although the
Grey Butcher Birds are about the size of a European Starling they are
capable of killing birds twice their size, usually youngsters or sick adult
birds. I must admit I was disappointed for losing my garden birds but cannot
stop admiring the tool mother nature has provided them with for tearing the
flesh of their pray.
Photo by: John Quatro
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