Red Siskin Initiative Soars to New Heights

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After receiving Conservation Nation support to launch key aspects of their project, the Red Siskin Initiative (RSI) was just awarded a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the American Bird Conservancy to continue their important work on this endangered South American bird.

And this is just one of many big steps recently taken by the coalition—our friends at RSI also recently completed a new center specially designed to preserve the species and grow its numbers in the wild. The new Red Siskin Conservation Center (RSCC) is located in Aragua, Venezuela, and earlier this year, opened its doors to rescue, rehabilitate and reintroduce siskins, aiming to bolster wild Venezuelan populations of this bird.

None of this would have been possible without the initial fundraising boost provided by Conservation Nation donors in 2018. This funding directly empowered the project’s in-country lead, Miguel Angel Arvelo, to devote his time to the initiative in its early stages, while receiving critical support and guidance from Smithsonian experts.

And the momentum isn’t slowing down—in the last three months, the RSCC has rescued eight siskins. Two birds came from confiscations by the wildlife authorities, and six came from new members of RSI’s program designed to foster sustainable behavior among aviculturists, encouraging people who used to participate in illegal trade to instead surrender their birds, pledging to no longer participate in the trade. Now, they help RSI with Red Siskin conservation.

Smithsonian researchers are invested in this struggling species here in the states, too. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia was the first facility to have siskins in 2015. Researchers there have fledged 16 chicks, including two chicks they hand-reared.

These combined efforts from dedicated conservationists thousands of miles apart have ignited hope for this national symbol. And now, with the recent grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the future of the species looks even brighter—the grant will boost RSI’s Birds and Coffee project, focusing on expanding shade-grown coffee practices and restoring tropical forests, so that siskins in the wild can flourish yet again.

Congratulations to our friends at the Red Siskin Initiative!

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