SISKIN (Carduelis spinus)

Tarin des aulnes


The Siskin is a bird of coniferous forests. In Switzerland it occurs mostly between 1000 - 2000 m, and so is a bird of the montane forests, in winter it forms large flocks and in harsh weather these may be found in lowland areas aslo. "Aulne" is the French name for the Alder (Alnus glutinosa) and this is one of its favorite food sources, along with Birch (Betula) (Bouleau). The male is a bright greenish yellow heavily marked with black and a clear black cap, the female is duller and more streaked with no cap.

The song of the Siskin is a bewildering frantic delivery of trills, squeaks and sweet twitterings projected at a pace which is quite confusing, here is a single male singing, listen to the end because there is a telling moment which I will explain:

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If you listened carefully at about 36s you would have heard a harsh noise like a drawn out "dtszeeeee" which contrasted with the rest - this is the defining call of a Siskin which allows you to pick it our from others of similar quality like Goldfinch or Serin. Here it is isolated:

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and here is a short sonogram of a few of the notes with the "dtszeee" noise at about 7 s. You can also see from this that there are a few notes that are repeated in the song, but even in a longer sample it is hard to pick out a real pattern:

That harsh noise can also be used as a call note just on its own. There are other call notes but I do not have recordings of them.

This is about all there is to say about this attractive and active little finch, watch out for large flocks in winter - into the hundreds, which can fly overhead with a big whoosh of wings. Here is a flock in January with many individuals singing - listen out for that defining call:

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