Why is it endangered?

Two primary human activities have brought the Red Siskin close to extinction: Unsustainable harvest, and habitat loss and degradation.

Traffic

People have been capturing this bird for many decades because of its red plumage. In the early twentieth century, it was fashionable to use their feathers, as well as the whole stuffed bird, to decorate women’s hats and other garments. The Red Siskin is also known to frequently hybridize with domestic canaries to create a variety of “red factor” in canaries. This activity became very popular at the beginning of the 20th century and was the first cause of the drastic decline of this species. Most of the birds die on the move across the ocean.

Habitat

The Red Siskin has historically been distributed in deciduous tropical forests, in hills near the Andes and the coastal mountains. Part of his habitat has been progressively degraded or transformed by logging, agriculture, urbanization, and other human activities. Fortunately, our research suggests that the Red Siskin is able to tolerate a variety of human activities. Still, habitat loss can have a negative impact on the availability of nesting sites.

In Guyana, the intentional burning of the savanna is a traditional practice that is carried out for a variety of reasons, such as the management of grazing for livestock and as a method of stalking prey when hunting. Either way, this practice could have highly catastrophic consequences for the Red Siskin if not properly controlled, especially during periods of extreme drought.

Genetic

If the Red Siskin populations continue to decline, inbreeding and loss of genetic diversity could become additional threats in wildlife. Inbreeding can reduce fertility and resistance to disease, and the loss of genetic diversity reduces the ability of the species to adapt to changes. The good intentions of people in releasing a Red Siskin hybrid (with some cross ancestry of canaries or other birds) could also have a negative impact on the genetic health of the species.