Serinus tottus  

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Cape siskin

Crithagra totta (Serinus tottus)

Geographical distribution and habitat
The Cape Siskin has its habitat in the south and southwest of the Cape Province (South Africa). In this most southern part of South Africa they visit the slopes covered with pine trees and proteas, forest edges, acacia forests and is also seen in parks and large gardens. They eat seeds, buds, nectar, flowers and occasionally insects and seek their food hidden in trees and shrubs and on the rocky ground. Research shows that the young birds are fed with pre-digested insects and vegetable food from the crop of the parents. The nests are found in cavities in rocks, which is not standard to most of the Crithagra species. Nests in South Africa are found from August to January. This is similar to spring in Western European conditions.

Size: 13 cm (5.1 inch).

Description and subspecies
Both sexes are very similar to each other. But with the difference that the males are more intensely yellow-green in color on the chest, more brown-green on the back and grey on the head. Stripings on the throat of the females is more evidently present. The typical white wing and tail drawing is less prominent by the females. No subspecies have been described.

There are differences of opinion whether or not Crithagra totta should be counted as a true member of the genus Crithagra. This also applies to a very similar bird; the Drakensberg cini (Crithagra symonsi). The reasons for different insights in terms of genus classification, are a quite different courtship and nestel behaviour compared to other Crithagra species and the typical white wing and tail feather markings that cannot be seen by any other Crithagra species. Crithagra totta is a very rare species in European aviculture.




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