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The American Federation of Aviculture Red Siskin Project

This is the official Red Siskin Project (RSP) website. Linked from the American Federation of Aviculture (AFA)site or from AFA members and supporters. Information found within the pages of this site will be updated by Official RSP Breeders as each year progresses. Updates can be located within this site, in AFA's Watchbird quarterly magazine.
This website and the Red Siskin Project is not financially supported by AFA only overseen by AFA's Conservation Director and Chair. Basically, RSP is administratively overseen by AFA in the purpose of increasing the population of the Red Siskin through consortium breeding and tracking, supports scientific research.

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Red Siskin Pair

About the Project

What is the Red Siskin?
The Venezuelan Black-hooded Red Siskin, Carduelis cucullata, is 4 inch in length. The male has a beautiful visual deep rich vermilion(red) plumage on it's breast, belly and undertail -coverts, red also appears on the rump, a uppertail coverts, wing bars, and appears on the back of the neck which blends to gray on the back . The head, chin, throat, flight feathers, and tail are black. White appears around the vent and underwing-coverts. The adult female holds all similar markings as the male with the exception of the black hood. Red coloring on the female only appears on the upper portion of the breast, and is faded on the wing bar, rump, and sometimes the undertail-coverts. Juveniles are all gray and begin to molt their plumage at 3-4 months. As the birds age the red color deepens. No color food is needed with these birds, their coloring never fades! This is the reason they are so sought after by the canary fanciers. The red gene is breed in to their canaries and used to enhance the color (red factor) in the canary or for colorbreed lines.

The Red Siskin is protected by Venezuelan government and the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). The United States Fish and Wildlife considers our captive breed siskins protected also including offspring or any hybridized young. Any interstate sales for both seller and buyer must hold captive breeding permits to purchase these birds. use the link on the bottom of this page "USFWL Information".

This beautiful bird continues to be trapped by the cage bird trade today. The Red Siskin may yet become extinct in the wild. One remaining isolated flocks exists according to a recently published article in a June issue of an ornithology magazine called Auk. The discovery was made by Braun and Mark Robbins of the University of Kansas. This fascinating research is a collaboration between the Smithsonian, the University of Kansas, and the University of Guyana. Further research and follow-up will help understand this birds survival.

What is the Red Siskin Project?
The Red Siskin Project(RSP) has been in existence since the 70's under the American Federation of Aviculture's umbrella. After a turnover in Directors. Today the RSP is managed as a consortium. Breeders will be able to rely on a more consistent and open communication avenue for information by communicating with others managing their flocks. RSP is made up of private owners and volunteers who are experienced with this specie. They come together to ensure the Red Siskin will be around in the United States for future generations. In order to accomplish this large task birds are registered with the RSP Studbook Keeper. The studbook is a database called S.P.A.R.K.S. This database is used by the zoological community which records the parentage, hatch, death, disease, transfers, necropsy information and assigns the birds a studbook identification number. We are able to extract inbreeding percentiles which is a tool in pairing our birds and ensuring stronger gene pairings.

All our birds are close banded in order to lessen the chances of pairing up too closely related birds. Each breeder is required to report additions, deaths, and sickness.

Why would a breeder get involved?
Only half the offspring of the project's initial pair(s) will be moved to another breeder. The other half will become the property of breeder. Any private breeder who already has Red Siskins can join the project. They must register their flock in our studbook and enjoy the benefits of the Studbook. In return they are expected to trade the RSP's breeders. As with any new interested individual who wishes to join. RSP has a process to screen for experienced husbandry skills for this endangered specie.

RSP also has developed a private Yahoo group. This group is exclusively for the RSP breeders, volunteers, board members, and director. Only those who complete a questionaire reviewed by our processing committee (consisting of breeders) and excepted will be invited in. You may request an application by contacting us at

Communication on the internet board was established to strengthen a better flow of information and sharing techniques, and most important strengthening their skills.

Why give half to the breeder?
The "ownership" will encourage the breeders to invest more and take pride in managing and building both their own flock and the Projects. This was not an option in the past. A completely different attitude comes to play when ownership becomes the incentive. It also allows an opportunity for the breeder to re-coop out-of-pocket expenses for supplies and transferring birds back to the next RSP breeder. Providing opportunity to build a healthy flock and utilize the project's resources for ongoing support and networking. These tools and ownership will provide better outcomes for future generations to begin find Red Siskins at their bird marts.

What types of problems has the RSP had?
As with any breeding program or just breeding birds of any type you have disease, injuries, accidents. People coming and going . The RSP had mandatory necropies of all deaths because all the birds belonged to the RSP. The idea was what it was but today's breeders are able to manage better with available products and make better choices when modifying their husbandry skills. Unfortunately, our Project has T.B. The birds that tested positive were not moved and do not participate in the breeding part of the project. Most of these birds are now gone. This brought the project to a halt for a few years. We do have a few healthy groups and are now moving pairs to breeders in 2002 .

There are the risks of managing birds of any type. It is imperative for everyone breeding birds to test on any suspect birds and avoid any type of overcrowding and avoid unsightly housing. Quarantine your new birds. This cannot be emphasized enough.

The RSP is also in need of funds to move, exchange fresh bloodlines. Expenses for any avian testing and treatments. Emergency rescue should a breeder need the projects assistance.

What are the RSP goals?
Red Siskin Project Mission is: To create a sustaining captive healthy population of Red Siskins within the US. Support conservation efforts and scientific studies in the wild.

How does RSP connect with local bird clubs?
Clubs are in constant need for educational materials for club meetings, and informational tables for their shows or searching for guest speakers. RSP is in need to raise funds. In order to satisfy both needs RSP has developed a CD or DVD Slide Show (RSP fundraisers) for your club to play on a computer or laptop. Nice for a club's library for members to take home and view. Totes and Polo shirts (Totes are 12.00 each. (S&H included in the 12.00.) The polo shirts are 30.00 each. (S&H included in that price too). Sizes are S,M,L,LX, XXL. Add 1.50 for the XXL. Colors are: Purple, Navy, Green, Ash Grey, White, Sand Tan, Yellow ) with the Red Siskin Logo embroidered can be purchased for those needed special awards or prizes. Ask your AFA State or Regional Representative to provide you more information. Contact the Red Siskin Project directly for our brochure and order form. All contact information is listed in this magazine.

The Red Siskin Project encourages bird clubs to join us and sponsor these beautiful birds in order to successfully continue breeding and sustaining a healthy flock. The Project goal is to eliminate the need to remove wild birds from their natural environment and maintain our present domesticated flock within the US.

All contributions are recognized by the Internal Revenue Service. You will receive a written acknowledgment from AFA for donations.

The project is presently searching for unrelated bloodlines for next years offspring. Those who have Red Siskins are asked to contact the Project. Only pure lines please.

Red Siskin Project Chair, Paula Hansen
(503) 581-8208 - Oregon, USA

Male Red Siskin

AFA Office, P.O. Box 7312
N. Kansas City, MO 64116

Phone: (816) 421 - BIRD

The Red Siskin Project is presently seeking private breeders to join the breeding consortium for Red Siskins.

This breeding consortium is supported strickly on product sales and bird club cash donations.

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