Yellow-faced Siskin Spinus yarrellii


Justification of Red List Category
Widespread and illegal trade is apparently resulting in a rapid population reduction, qualifying this species as Vulnerable (Collar et al. 1992).

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 individuals. This equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Despite the lack of data, a rapid decrease in the population is suspected, owing to this species's prevalence in the wild bird trade (with numbers apparently decreasing), as well as the rarity of recent sightings in the wild.

Distribution and population

Carduelis yarrellii is known from two widely disjunct regions 3,500 km apart in north Venezuela and north-east Brazil. In Brazil, remaining populations appear to be concentrated in Alagoas, with recent records from Pedra Talhada, Murici and Usina Laginha. There are recent records from more than 20 sites in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest (S. Aline Roda in litt. 2007), including Saltinho, Sierra Grande Caramarigbe, Bitury, Caetes, Caruaru, Ibimirim and Serra Negra in Pernambuco, Serra da Capivara in Piauí (Olmos 1993), and near Jeremoabo in Bahia. There have been no records from Ceará or Paraíba since 1958 and 1957, respectively. It was considered locally common in Pernambuco and Alagoas, but rare elsewhere, in the 1980s. There are several recent records from Pernambuco (Pereira et al. 2014), one of which may have involved individuals released after confiscation by inspectors of the illegal animal trade (S. Aline Roda et al. 2003); it is still often found for sale in northeast Brazil (Pereira et al. 2014). Very few birds observed were at Murici in 1996-1999 (A. Whittaker in litt. 1999). This suggests a sharp decline in range and numbers. In Venezuela it has been recorded at two sites in south-east Carabobo (Rojas-Suárez and Sharpe 2008), and the population is likely derived from escaped cagebirds (Ridgely and Tudor 1989, C. J. Sharpe in litt. 2011); indeed, several other exotic cagebird species have become established as feral populations in the same area (e.g. Sharpe et al. 1997). There have been additional unverified reports from Carabobo (R. Restall in litt. 2000) and from Monagas and southern Bolívar states (Rojas-Suárez and Sharpe 2008); however, these are now considered unsubstantiated, and there appear to have been no documented records for several decades (Rojas-Suárez and Sharpe 2015, F. Espinoza verbally to C. J. Sharpe 2016).


It has been found in caatinga, forest edge, second growth, plantations, croplands and even large urban centres at elevations below 550 m. Very little is known of its ecology but it may, like its congener the Red Siskin C. cucullatus, need to utilise forest seasonally or even daily. In Saltinho, nests were found in exotic pine Pinus spp. trees (S. Aline Roda in litt. 2007).


It suffers from high volume, illegal trade on both national and international markets. In the 1980s, up to 700 birds were seen at the Fortaleza bird market, and 60-100 appeared seasonally at the Caxias market in Rio de Janeiro. It may also be threatened by pesticide applications (Rodríguez and Rojas-Suárez 1995, Rojas-Suárez and Sharpe 2008).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II and legally protected in Brazil and Venezuela. In Brazil, it has been recorded in Pedra Talhada, Serra Negra and Saltinho Biological Reserves, Serra da Capivara National Park and Tapacurá Ecological Station.  It has been heavily exploited, but it is unclear if it has been bred in any volume.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to determine its current range, abundance and ecological requirements, especially in Alagoas and Pernambuco. Determine its current status in Venezuela (Rodríguez and Rojas-Suárez 1995, Rojas-Suárez and Sharpe 2008). Investigate the impact of pesticides on food availability and condition of the birds (Rodríguez and Rojas-Suárez 1995, Rojas-Suárez and Sharpe 2008). Designate Murici as a biological reserve and ensure its de facto protection. Enforce legal measures on trapping and trade.


10 cm. Small, bright yellow finch. Male has black crown contrasting with bright yellow face, sides of neck and underparts. Pale yellow-olive upperparts with short, dark olive stripes. Yellow rump. Black wings, with olive-yellow edging to wing-coverts, and bright yellow wing-bar, wing-patch and tertial fringes. Black tail with yellow base. Female has bright yellowish-olive crown and upperparts with yellower rump. Similar spp. Sympatric siskins show dark hoods. Voice Complex and varied, high-pitched and strident warble.


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

Aline Roda, S., Restall, R., Whittaker, A., Davis, B., Sharpe, C J & Espinoza, F.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2017) Species factsheet: Spinus yarrellii. Downloaded from on 22/10/2017. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2017) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2017.