Yarrell's Siskin Recovery Project - Venezuela

Yarrellzeisigprojekt - Venezuela

The director of this project is Dr. Carlos L. Ortega Gonzalez. The (prelimnary) description of the project is as follows:

Recovery Project - Yellow Faced Siskin (Spinus Yarrelli)

spinus yarrellii
Yarrell's siskin
(Photo: Carlos Ortega)

The Yellow Faced Siskin, inhabits the inner mountain ranges of Carabobo and the adjacent zones to Trompillo, Belen and Manuare to the Southeast of Venezuela. A couple of years ago in these regions they were often seen in flocks of up to 100 individuals foraging for food in grassy areas which have shrubs and isolated trees. Another two areas where they were reported are the Dog Hill near San Carlos - Edo.Cojedes, and south of the city of Maturin - Edo Monagas.

The disappearance of this beautiful bird from our state is mainly due to two factors:

  1. The fumigations made by the Ministry of Health attempting to eradicate the Malaria transmitting mosquitoes
  2. The persistence of illegal trapping in the area.Adding to this that these birds are very delicate when caught wild, less than 10 percent survive and the rest succumb to various stress related illness (as described for the Red Siskins). Continuos trapping has really depleted the wild population in these areas.
For a number of years now, no observation of the Yellow Faced Siskin has been reported, except for the few reports of the birds in areas which are not common for this species. The Yellow Faced Siskins also inhabits eastern Brazil from Ceara to Bay as reported by W. Phelps (1994), in the Book of the Birds of Venezuela.


The project that we are trying to develop is orientated towards the recovering of the wild population we once enjoyed in this areas. Everyone is welcome to participate ( Ornithologists, Scientists, Birders, Students etc..), but under the supervision of the Directors of the Project. Promotion of the Project will be done by the magazine of the CIRES (Research center for Reproduction of Wild Species) and some local and International Web sites.


Within the objectives to develop we have:

  1. Estimation of exact population of the existing birds, in the two known geographic areas of the distribution: (central and Eastern), to see if the spontaneous population recovery in their natural ecosystems of the area of Carabobo is feasible.
  2. According to the obtained results of the populations of the Eastern area, to see if the reintroduction to the central areas of this zone is feasible.
  3. To make a census of the number of existing birds in captivity and to create a registry book (Studbook), with the purpose of offering specialized support in aid to their reproduction in captivity. To extend the book of registry on international scale to have an immediate availability of the number of birds available for reproduction, with the suitable genetic pool.
  4. To investigate if the wild populations of the Yellow Faced Siskins in Brazil are considerable, and if we have to, requesting from the Brazilian authorities to donate 100 pairs with the purpose of seeding them in our state. Logically this aspect must have the corresponding genetic studies to see if they are genetically compatible, respecting the criteria of the IUCN for the reintroduction of species. All this with approval of the Ministry of the Atmosphere and Profauna.
  5. Investigation of the natural feeding of the birds, to see if any destruction of the seeding grasses and plants on which these birds depend on is evident. Also to investigate the time and zones of nest building, to be able to protect these areas better.
  6. Enforcement and application of the same laws as for the Cardenalito (Carduelis cucullata), elevating this species to the list of Danger of Imminent Extinction (CHALLENGES I).
  7. To involve the governmental and non-governmental organizations in the fight for the recovery of this species.
  8. To promote the signs to be aware off, which could lead to extinction, campaigns of awareness involving breeders and the farmers of the region.
  9. Development of programs and techniques for breeding birds in captivity.
  10. To cooperate with the Armed Forces and getting them to enforce laws which would protect the species from illegal trapping.
  11. To promote breeding in captivity of registered birds in order to take the pressure off the wild Siskins in the area.
  12. To give the birds which are established in and around the National Parks a total protection.
  13. To study the criteria for handling the wild populations once recovered.
  14. To look for alternatives of income for the bird trappers.
  1. A biologist, to study the bird population and plants on which the birds are dependent as well as their local migratory movements.
  2. An educator, for the development of the objectives relative to the education programs.
  3. A veterinary doctor, for the scientific support of the species as well as to monitor the health of animals and the birds in the area.
  4. Field guides (experienced), to lead the group studying the Siskin population in different areas.
  5. A bioligist and a geneticist, for the corresponding examinations
  1. A vehicle - 4 wheel drive.
  2. Equipment of support, such as cameras, recorders, binoculars, digging equipment, instruments, etc.
  3. Passages and lodgings when they are necessary.

If we took into account that this bird is smaller than the Cardenalito (Red Siskin), we can imagine immediately why this bird is always on demand. Farmers, Trappers and dealers often profit from this bird.

This short summary of the Project could turn into several volumes once it's up and running.


Dr. Carlos L. Ortega Gonzalez (Author)
Claudia Krobb (Webmaster)