What Do Siskins Eat?

The siskin, which is a small member of the finch family, has found a new love – peanuts!

It wasn’t that long ago when it was a rare sight for us mortals to have a siskin feeding in our gardens.

But in recent years, it appears that these little birds are happy to venture more often into the garden in search of the red mesh bags of peanuts, which we hang out for them, particularly in the winter months!

The hunt is on for siskins, therefore, to find the great garden owners who remember their love of all things peanut!

The siskin is a little bird with a tiny short beak that is designed to eat small seeds – they love in particular, spruce, pine, and birch seeds.

But if you really want to see a happy siskin, head for the alder trees on damp ground, as this is where you are very likely to see flocks of siskins troughing on the alder seeds…

Seed Sensation

Tree seeds are, therefore, the staple diet of the siskin, and then their diet shifts to insects in the summer.

They’re quite a common bird in the UK with over 40,000 pairs thought to breed – no wonder they get hungry for all those peanuts!

They are beginning to rely more on garden supplies with bird seeders and feeding tables due to the loss of woodland habitat and the trees it relies upon for its food becoming more under threat.

So, it’s become a far more familiar face in the garden than it was in the past, due to the popularity of people putting bird food out for them.

You’d recognise these little finches with their yellowy-green streaked bodies, black crown, and little bib, and with its yellowy patches on its wings and tail – the female is far more drab, but still has the distinct forked tail like the male.

If you’re thinking of joining the growing trend of feeding birds, don’t forget to spare a thought for the siskin and perhaps spoil them by buying (alongside the peanuts, of course) some niger seeds and sunflowers.

Size Matters

The smaller the size of the seed, the better as the siskin has a tiny beak, which really instead dictates its seed preferences.

Insects are also a particular delicacy the siskin enjoys – 

When they do visit your garden, it may be that you have a Sitka spruce, which is a great favourite with all the finches.

If the Sitka spruce seed cone is closed, you’ll find siskins will come into your garden to find alternative meals, but when the weather is drier, the siskin will use its hard, little beak to peck away at the spruce’s cones to extract the seeds inside.

It’s generally thought that if people didn’t put food in the winter months out for the siskin, it wouldn’t be long before they migrated or became far less common…

So, keep putting out the peanuts and the niger seeds in your bird feeder and tables, and you’re likely to see these cheerful little finches come into your garden.

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