Home | Bird Breeding | The Reason We Have Red Factor Canaries – Meet the Red Hooded Siskin – Part 2

The Reason We Have Red Factor Canaries – Meet the Red Hooded Siskin – Part 2

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.

Natural History

Red Siskin
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.

Captive Care

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!

Further Reading

You can read more about the care and natural history of this and related Siskins .


About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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