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Joining together individuals who share a common interest in breeding Carduelan species in captivity

Updated Monday, 10 June 2013

Page 10

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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.

Bolivia7.JPG (94274 bytes)
Markets in Santa Cruz
Bolivia5.JPG (76532 bytes)
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.

AlleniSiskin3.JPG (8926 bytes)
Spinus m. alleni
Photo by: Dr. Venceslau Barbosa
Note: the bird is completely yellow,  no white feathers on its abdomen!

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. alleni.

IctMagB.JPG (109944 bytes)
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.

IctAlleni.JPG (136376 bytes)
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.

Spinus crassirostris: 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.

AlleniF1.JPG (26055 bytes) Bird4.JPG (13024 bytes)
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.

Bolivia6.JPG (74773 bytes)
Dry Coca leafs is used as tea, recommended for people suffering from altitude sickness. 

 PBSiskH.JPG (75182 bytes) PBSiskM.JPG (56512 bytes)
Photos by: J. Quatro  
These birds are from my stock, probably S. m. magellanica. Notice the amount of white on its ventral area. 
HShood4.JPG (49669 bytes) HShenGhood4.JPG (48573 bytes) HShood5.JPG (49514 bytes)
Photos by: J. Quatro
In some females, mouse-gray hood is clearly visible, in some ear coverts are gray while others are all olive green.

   AlleniCasal1.JPG (44612 bytes)                             Tarcisio.JPG (33295 bytes)   
               Pair of S. m. alleni                    Tarcisio with his S. m. alleni and          
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! 

ArgentiMagell.JPG (57415 bytes)
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.
C.uropygialis1.JPG (38032 bytes) C.uropygialis2.JPG (32728 bytes) 4WeekUropygialis.JPG (52809 bytes)
Yellow-rumped Siskin
(C. uropygialis)
Photos by: Dr. D. Mendoza

Birb13.JPG (81499 bytes)                 SLFarm.JPG (39345 bytes)
Photo1: Believe it or not but there's a flock of Siskins somewhere in the photo
Photo2: Santa Juliana farm - rich with bird life

PeruvMagell.JPG (74281 bytes)      SMCapitalis2.JPG (68564 bytes)
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.

CabecitaNegra.JPG (17757 bytes)
  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.

Paulamale.JPG (20226 bytes)    Roraima.JPG (72080 bytes)
Venezuelan Hooded Siskin (Spinus magellanicus longirostris
C.m.LongiristrisDorso2.JPG (35524 bytes)    C.m.LongirostrisVientre.JPG (61599 bytes)
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. 
H-Siskin_urubambensis.JPG (35499 bytes)
Photo by: V. Yabar
Wild C.m.urubambensis netted in Urubamba Valley 
SiemirLongiUruba.JPG (40079 bytes)
Museum specimen of the C.m.urubambensis in comparison to the C.m.longirostris
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 the C.siemiradzkii 
is much brighter yellow. 
Note: The backs are all olive green and not brown as this photo suggests.
SiemirLongirMaleFemale.JPG (42920 bytes) 
The under side of the male C.siemiradzkii is much brighter yellow then in the C.m.
longirostris. The female C.m.siemiradzkii has white belly which is typical to all North-western South American species. 

SaffronSiskins .jpg (53986 bytes)
Saffron Siskins (C.siemiradzkii)

RedS.jpg (46940 bytes)
Photo by: J. Quatro
This is a fully grown young Red Siskin. 
C.m.longirostris and the C.siemiradzkii are about the same size.
C.m.m.jpg (44557 bytes)
Photo by: J. Quatro
This is the size of a fully grown C.m.magellanica
OlivaceousSiskin.JPG (44209 bytes)
Photo by: V. Yabar
C.m.olivacea, white wing edging are clearly visible on both in males and females.
C.m.olivacea males do not have white belly, therefore are easily distinguishable from the
C. m. magellanica.
C.m.paula.JPG (28037 bytes)
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.

  Aviary escapees
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.

CracticusTorquatus.JPG (64552 bytes)
Photo by: John Quatro

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