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Crithagra symonsi (Drakensberg siskin) 

[= Pseudochloroptila symonsi

Bergpietjiekanarie [Afrikaans]; Tšoere (generic term for canaries and siskins) [South Sotho]; Serin de Symons [French]; Drakensberggirlitz [German]; Canįrio das Drankensberg [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Fringillidae

Crithagra symonsi (Drakensberg siskin) Crithagra symonsi (Drakensberg siskin) 

Drakensberg siskin male, Sani Pass, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Drakensberg siskin female, top of Sani Pass, Drakensberg, South Africa-Lesotho border. [photo Alan Manson ©]

For information about this species, see www.birdforum.net/opus/Crithagra_symonsi

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to Lesotho and adjacent KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, South Africa, generally preferring montane shrubland, heathland and grassland.

Distribution of Drakensberg siskin in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Movements and migrations

Mainly resident in summer but it may move to lower altitudes in Winter when temperatures above 2600 metres above sea level get to low for it to endure.


It mainly eats seeds, buds and insects, although it sometimes drinks the nectar of coral-trees (Erythrina) in suburban gardens. It does most of its foraging on the ground in low vegetation with scattered rocks, gravel road verges and the foliage of shrubs and small trees.


  • It is probably a monogamous solitary nester, building a shallow cup of dry grass lined with hair and typically placed in a grass tuft or shrub on a rocky ledge, or alternatively in a pothole on a low cliff.
  • Egg-laying season is from November-January.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated for roughly 17 days (recorded in captivity).
  • Little is known about the chicks, other then a recorded nestling of about 19 days in captivity.


Although it was previously categorised as Near-threatened it is now though to be not of serious concern, as despite it being in demand for the cage bird trade it is present in some protected areas.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.