Black-headed Siskin (Spinus notatus)

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Black-headed Siskin
Spinus notatus
Black-headed Siskin (Spinus notatus)
Name Black-headed Siskin
Name Lat. Spinus notatus
Synonym Carduelis notata
Family Finches and Allies
Family lat. Fringillidae
Order Perching Birds
Order lat. Passeriformes
Origin America
Climate Subtropical - tropical
Diet Finch seed, veggies, insects
Keeping Pair, group
Care Level Moderate
Reproduction Cup nest
Life Span 6-12 years
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 11.5 cm
Temperature Room temperature
Housing 80 x 40 x 40 cm
US Units
Size 4.5"
Temperature Room temperature
Housing 30" x 15" x 15"

Distribution and habitat

The home of the Black-breasted Siskin is southeastern Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua. There they inhabit the spruce and oak forests in higher regions. Today they are only available as a breeding form.

Cage size

The minimum cage size is 80 x 40 x 40 cm (L x W x H) for a pair. The cage size must not be undercut even in case of justified single keeping. For an additional 2 birds, assuming species compatibility, the floor space must be increased by 25%. The cage must be placed in a bright, draught-free and quiet place at a height of at least 80 cm (except aviaries), have a rectangular base and be opaque on three sides, aviaries on one side. Keeping in an aviary is preferable.


The ground must be covered with sand, leaves, wood granulate, bark mulch or similar material and must be cleaned regularly. They need perching, hiding, roosting and nesting opportunities, as well as biotope-like furnishings with grasses, shrubbery and natural planting. At least 3 perches made of wood or branches of varying thickness and height must be installed in such a way that they can only be reached by flying and that the longest possible flight distance is created. Bathing facilities must be available at all times. The room temperature should not fall below 15 °C.


The species-specific range of feed consists of mixed seeds, available from specialist retailers as premium quality siskin feed, supplemented with foxtail millet, green feed (chickweed, green panicle millet, fresh grass panicles, cucumber slices, organic lettuce, etc.), tangle grass seeds, insect feed and, in particular, germinated seeds (e.g. millet).), tangle grass seeds, insect food and, especially for raising young, germinated seeds (e.g. millet), egg food and insect larvae, such as small, skinned, cut-up mealybug larvae, ant pupae, small buffalos and aphids. Charcoal, vitamine lime, and shell grit are needed as digestive aids. Drinking water must always be available in birdbaths or in stable, open containers and, like food, must be offered fresh daily in clean containers.

A regular and varied diet promotes health and prevents deficiency symptoms.

Reproduction and breeding

The sexes are similarly colored, the male has a black head and a black bib ending in the breast, the female lacks this bib

They like to breed in open cup-shaped nesting baskets or freely in the branches. Suitable nesting material is sisal, coconut fiber, jute fiber, moss, sharpie solid and animal hair. The clutch consists of 3-4 eggs, the incubation period is about 13 days. For breeding, the room temperature should be at least 20 ° C.


The birds may only be kept in pairs or groups

They may not be kept in a round cage. An aviary is required for group keeping.

When kept in an outdoor aviary with a height of at least 1.70 m, they also require a heated shelter with a floor area of at least 1 m², which can be visited by the birds at any time. The temperature in the shelter must not fall below 15 °C and the furnishings must correspond to those of cage keeping.

Sufficient daylight or flicker-free artificial light (stroboscopic effect) corresponding to the light spectrum of natural sunlight must be provided in rooms, including shelters. The lighting duration must be between 8 and 14 hours per day. The day-night rhythm must be observed. An adequate indoor climate must be provided. The health condition of the birds must be checked daily

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: Othmar Sieberer; Image: Othmar Sieberer

Source: BMELV (1995): Tierschutzgutachten - Mindestanforderungen an die Haltung von Kleinvögeln; CLASSEN & MASSOTH (1992): Handbuch der Cardueliden, Band 1, Hanke Verlag

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF