The na­ture of things

Siskin

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country Notebook - Edited by Vic­to­ria Marston

HIGH up in the conifer trees, the siskin makes her nest, a handy fork in the branches mak­ing the foun­da­tion for a neat lit­tle cup of twiggy bits and wo­ven grasses, smoothed off with pieces of lichen and lined with a cosy du­vet of downy feath­ers. Scot­land, Wales and northern re­gions are the siskin’s stronghold, wher­ever conifers are abun­dant, but Mrs Siskin will also nest in mixed for­est else­where. They’re also in­creas­ingly re­sid­ing year-round in south­ern coun­ties, wher­ever there’s wood­land that suits their re­quire­ments.

Some three to five eggs will be laid about now: small, pale blue with pink­ish speck­les, they hatch in two weeks. Only the fe­male in­cu­bates them, but both par­ents will as­sist in feed­ing and an­other brood is likely to be raised later, if con­di­tions are fair.

Siskins are small, so­cia­ble finches, the males be­ing es­pe­cially colour­ful in the breed­ing sea­son, hav­ing much yel­low and greenyyel­low in the plumage, flashed with black and wear­ing a jaunty black cap. They might be con­fused with green­finches, but are smaller all over and the green­finch has a no­tice­ably chunkier bill and dif­fer­ent song. Siskins rel­ish tree seeds—those of alder, birch, pine, spruce, larch and plane all at­tract them, es­pe­cially in win­ter, but hang­ing bird feed­ers with ny­jer and other seeds or peanuts also fit the bill, as well as dan­de­lion—which are plen­ti­ful right now. KBH

Il­lus­tra­tion by Bill Dono­hoe

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