Saffron Siskin Spinus siemiradzkii


Justification of Red List Category
This species's habitat requirements, and therefore status, are unclear. If it is dependent on deciduous forest during part of its life-cycle, it may qualify as Endangered. If it is not dependent on this habitat, then it may only qualify as Near Threatened. Whatever its precise preferences, it appears that the population is small and severely fragmented, and the complete loss of forest patches is likely to be causing an ongoing decline. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
There is no new information on population size or trend, and little is known about threats to the population. However, continuing degradation of natural habitats within the species's range, together with the rarity of field observations of the species, suggest that the population could be in slow decline.

Distribution and population

Carduelis siemiradzkii is confined to south-west Ecuador (Manabí, Santa Elena, Guayas and Loja) and adjacent north-west Peru (Tumbes). It is uncommon to rare, being considered relatively common in only two areas.


It inhabits semi-arid scrub and dry forest, also forest-edge tall grass and scrub, from near sea-level to 750 m. It has also been recorded in grassland and semi-humid forest edge (A. Agreda in litt. 2012). During fieldwork in July-September 1996, it was not encountered within intact forest, and it is reasonably tolerant of heavily disturbed habitats, with records from central Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city (Pople et al. 1997). However, it may depend on deciduous forest during part of its life-cycle. Most localities appear to be close to the forest-arid scrub interface (Ridgely et al. 1998), with the exception of records on the coast of Tumbes, Isla Puná, Guayas and a locality about which there is some confusion - Balzar Mountains, Manabí. Breeding is apparently during the wet season in January-May. It may undertake seasonal or nomadic movements, and may respond to climatic events such as El Niño (Pople et al. 1997). It is generally seen in groups, sometimes as large as 30 individuals (Pople et al. 1997).


Threats to this little-known species are unclear but, if it is dependent on deciduous forest during part of its life-cycle, it is probably seriously threatened by deforestation. Below 900 m, the rate of deforestation in west Ecuador in 1958-1988 was 57% per decade, as a result of clearance for agriculture, and intense grazing by goats and cattle (Dodson and Gentry 1991, Pople et al. 1997). Even if the species is not entirely dependent on deciduous forest during part of its life-cycle, the complete loss of forest patches is still likely to be leading to declines in overall habitat suitability (Dodson and Gentry 1991). Changes in agricultural practice, e.g. pesticide use, could also influence this species if it uses semi-agricultural habitats.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in six protected areas in Ecuador: Machalilla National Park and Pacoche Marine and Coastal Wildlife Refuge in Manabí (Solano et al. 2008), and Cerro Blanco Protection Forest, Guayas, Manglares-Churute Ecological Reserve, National Recreational Area of Parque Lago and Isla Santay National Recreational Area, Guayas (Wege and Long 1995; A. Agreda in litt. 2012). In Peru it is found in the Northwest Peru Biosphere Reserve, Tumbes (Wege and Long 1995).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Research its habitat requirements, ecology and distribution and better determine its conservation status based on its dependence on deciduous forest (Dodson and Gentry 1991). Investigate the nature of seasonal or nomadic movements (Dodson and Gentry 1991). Ensure strict management of Machalilla National Park (Dodson and Gentry 1991) and other national reserves in western Ecuador.


11 cm. Small, bright yellow-and-black finch. Male yellow with black hood, tail and wings, and yellow covert fringes and primary bases. Female is duller and lacks hood. Similar spp. Hooded Siskin C. magellanica has an olive, not yellow, mantle with black markings, both sexes are much less yellow. Voice A high twittering flight-call. Hints Favours weedy areas in quebradas and washes.


Text account compilers
Gilroy, J., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J

Freile, J., Ana, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Spinus siemiradzkii. Downloaded from on 26/05/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/05/2019.