The Siskin is a small, short-tailed bird, 11-12.5 cm (4.3-4.9 in) long, a wingspan between 20-23 cm (7.9-9.1 in). Its mass is 10-18 g. The male has a greyish green back; yellow rump and sides of the tail The end is black; as well as the wings which have a distinctive yellow wing stripe. Its breast is yellowish becoming whiter and striped towards the cloaca; it has a black chin patch and on its head it has two yellow auriculas and a black cap. Female birds are more olive-coloured than the male. The cap and the auriculas are greenish with a white bib and a rump that is a slightly striped whitish yellow. The young have a similar colouration to the females, but with drab colours.

Habitat and Distribution

Its breeding area is separated into : the east coast of Asia and the central and northern part of Europe. They occur all year in Central Europe and mountain ranges in the south. They occur in north Scandinavia, Russia, over-wintering in the Mediterranean basin and the area around the Black Sea. In China they breed in the Khingan Mountains of Inner Mongolia and in Jiangsu province; they spend summer in Tibet, Taiwan, the valleys of the lower Yangtse River and the south east coast. Its habitat is forested areas at a certain altitude on a mountain side.


The bird feeds in trees avoiding eating on the ground. In autumn and winter its diet is based on the seeds of deciduous trees such as birch and alder. When feeding young they eat more insects, mainly beetles.


They breed in Coniferus woodland building a nest in a tree. Two to six eggs are laid. The eggs are white or light grey or light blue, with small brown spots. Incubation takes between 10 and 14 days and is carried out entirely by the female.

Calls and Songs

This bird has two calls, both powerful but conflicting. They are described as `tilu` and `tluih`. The song is similar to the other finches, a smooth and rapid twitter and trill with a long duration.