Please see Part I of this article to learn about the role this brilliantly-colored bird played in the development of Red Factor Canaries (Serinus canarius). Also known as the Venezuelan Red Siskin or the Black Hooded Red Siskin (Carduelis cucullata), it is highly endangered in the wild, but fortunately breeds well in captivity.
Red Hooded Siskins barely top 4 inches in length, but make up in color what they lack in size. Males, clad in vermillion, red and black, are simply spectacular. They are native only to northeastern Columbia, northern Venezuela and Trinidad, where they favor dry scrubland and semi-wooded savannahs.
Long protected by the Venezuelan government and listed on Appendix I of Cites, Red Hooded Siskins have not recovered from earlier over-collection and habitat loss, and are no longer to be found over much of their former range. They have been introduced to Puerto Rico and Cuba, and are well established in captivity.
Red Hooded Siskins are a great choice for experienced aviculturists…in addition to being an endangered species in need of further captive breeding efforts, they are among the most beautiful of all Neo-tropical birds. Although in demand for Canary crossings, I feel they are best maintained with others of their kind, at least until larger captive stocks have been built up.
Siskins are somewhat high strung when first moved to a new cage or aviary, and tend to be temperature sensitive until acclimatized (they are best held at 75-80 F when first received). However, well-acclimated birds are very hardy and established pairs or even trios breed regularly. Their husbandry is similar to that of the Canary, and they have a rather pleasant song as well. Prices tend to be high, but dedicated finch keepers usually agree that they are well worth it!
You can read more about the care and natural history of this and related Siskins .