Author Archives: Maria

Connecting with people
13 Dec

Connecting with people

Red Siskin Chocolate: Chocolate Mantuano, a Venezuelan
chocolatier, Titina Penzini, a Venezuelan celebrity and Café

Arabica, a Venezuelan coffee roaster have created a limited-
edition chocolate bar with organic cacao and Smithsonian

Bird Friendly Venezuelan Coffee to help RSI with outreach
and fundraising. Chocolate Mantuano will ship orders of 200
or more bars of chocolate internationally for any supporter
who wants to help.

Red Siskin Initiative Celebration
23 Nov

Red Siskin Initiative Celebration

SCBI hosted a celebration of
the RSI on September
23. SCBI Director
Steve Monfort and
RSI-cofounder Michael
Braun, NMNH, gave a
wonderful introduction
to the project followed
by a tour of the Red Siskin
colony and discussion
with the RSI team about
our work and vision.

SCBI Autumn Conservation Festival 2016: The
weekend long public outreach festival was a fantastic
opportunity to share the RSI with hundreds of visitors.
Our booth was rated one of the crowd favorites!
Thanks to Christine Frandsen for graphic design and to
Helen Moore, NZP, Kristin Black, SCBI, and volunteers
for support.

SCBI celebration of RSI on September
23, attended by local supporters, some
RSI team members and leaders from

More Safe Habitats
15 Oct

More Safe Habitats

Guyana Bird Friendly agroforestry program: Tree nurseries
have been established at Dadanawa, Katoonarib, and Shulinab
villages, and more seedlings planted at Katoonarib, Shulinab,
Rupunau. This reforestation effort integrates shade-grown
coffee, cacao, and other cash crops and Non Timber Forest
Products, following SI Bird-Friendly Coffee(c) guidelines.

“Piedra e Cachimbo” coffee farms in Venezuela: In July,
Peter Bichier, long-term field researcher with Smithsonian
Migratory Bird Center and currently at Santa Cruz
University, and Luis Arrieta, a Venezuelan agronomist, made
preliminary surveys of shade coffee farms that are seeking
to achieve Smithsonian Bird Friendly Coffee® certification.
This effort will provide release sites for Red Siskins
and conserve traditional agricultural communities,
cultural heritage and critical overwintering habitat for
migratory birds. Travel was made possible thanks to the
American Bird Conservancy.

Red indicates highest bird-biodiversity. Piedra e
Cachimbo is circled in.

Preparing for Red Siskin Reintroduction
15 Oct

Preparing for Red Siskin Reintroduction

Smithsonian Red Siskin colony: The new SCBI flock is thriving
and we expect to start hatching chicks this spring! We are
lining up interns to assist researchers with data collection on
nutrition, vocalization, and breeding behaviors.

Red Siskin Conservation Center: RUHL WALKER Architects
have produced a spectacular conceptual design for the
conservation breeding and education facility planned for
Bararida Zoo-VE. This is a major step forward for the RSI
reintroduction plan!

Conceptual design for Red
Siskin Conservation Breeding
and Education Center (RSCC)
at Bararida Zoo in Barquisimeto
Venezuela. This elegant yet
economical facility will be the
main site for breeding siskins for
reintroduction and the central
feature of Bararida’s conservation
education and training programs.
Architectural services have been
generously donated by Ruhl
Walker Architects.

Field Research
30 Sep

Field Research

Guyana: South Rupununi Conservation Society field research
resumes. Rangers are banding birds, studying movement
patterns, and collecting blood samples for genetic research
with support from the Mohamed Bin Zayed Foundation.

Searching for siskins in Puerto Rico: In December, Jack
Eitniear, Center for the Study for Tropical Birds, Mike Braun
and Brian Coyle, SI-NMNH, along with Sergio Colon and several
other members of the Sociedad Ornitológica Puertorriqueña
(SOPI) will launch a months-long search for Red Siskins on the
Caribbean island, where they were last officially documented
in 1983.

Broadening the mission in Venezuela: The international
network built and fostered by the RSI has been contributing
to conservation efforts of other species and ecosystems.
With support from the William Belton Fund, we are looking
for “Lost Birds” in Venezuela in partnership with American
Bird Conservancy. Stay tuned for upcoming news about this
important work.

New Equipment: We are very grateful for the donation of a
new camera, audio recording equipment and truck parts from
Idea Wild. These will support years of future field research in
Venezuela including proposed 2017 work on trapping activity,
potential threats from other native species, and Bird Friendly

Understanding the Red Siskin
16 Aug

Understanding the Red Siskin

Conservation Genomics: SI researchers Paul Frandsen,
Rebecca Dikow and HC Lim are leading research on siskin
phylogeography and diversity as well as comparing siskin and
canary genome sequence to develop an assay for ancestral

Understanding Red Siskin
History: Jesus Maldonado,
SCBI, and Brian Coyle, NMNH,
are leading the analysis of
DNA sequence recovered
from 19th and 20th museum
specimens to compare
historic to modern population
structure of Red Siskins.

19 Jul


Smithsonian National Zoo Red Siskin Website: The RSI
now has an official web page on the National Zoo website.

The Atlantic magazine: Read Ed Yong’s great article about
the history of the Red Siskin and RSI recovery efforts.

Finch Breeders Review: The Finch Society of Australia
featured the RSI in a recent issue of their club journal.

Aviary Life Magazine: Another important media partner in
Australia, Aviary Life, has also been helping to support the
RSI, including a recent update on project news.