This is one of those birds that is a little easier to spot in the autumn and winter as migrants join the resident population, and harsh weather may drive them into your Otley garden, especially if you’ve put seeds out for them. They are smaller and more acrobatic than our other finches, so you might see them hanging upside down from your feeder. Otherwise look out for them in conifers, birch and alder, where they might also feed on insects. You may well hear them first, and their attractive song has unfortunately led to them being a popular caged bird. A better interaction was that the increase in British commercial conifer plantations led to a considerable expansion to their range. Siskins are lively, sociable birds, and they are unusual in that they can be seen allofeeding, where a subordinate bird will regurgitate food for a more dominant member of the flock. Apparently (and perhaps paradoxically) this hierarchy creates strong flock cohesion. In Saint Petersburg there is a statue of a Siskin, because of the resemblance of the plumage to the colours of a school uniform in the city. The students are nicknamed Siskins, whilst the statue has been repeatedly stolen.
By Neil Griffin Photo by Pixabay