Geographic Presence: Venezuela, Guyana, Puerto Rico.
The Red Siskin (Spinus cucullatus) is an iconic and endangered bird that is threatened by unsustainable harvesting for the pet trade and habitat loss. The Red SiskinInitiative (RSI) is an international consortium of public and private institutions led by the Smithsonian and partners that is working in Guyana, Puerto Rico and Venezuela to understand, protect and restore Red Siskin populations and their habitat. Our research program includes field work in three countries, genomics at NMNH, captive breeding at SCBI, and understanding the impacts of wildlife trade and sustainable agroforestry on natural and cultural systems. In Venezuela, we are also helping local farmers to achieve Smithsonian’s Bird Friendly® Coffee certification, which protects habitat for birds and other wildlife, preserves cultural heritage and benefits farming communities economically. We also collaborate with other zoos, private breeders of the Red Siskin, and avicultural organizations across the globe, and are very active with outreach, especially to young people and Latino communities in the US and Venezuela. Ultimately, the RSI aims to recover thriving and completely self-sustaining populations of this species, which would serve as an inspiring example of conservation success and catalyze further conservation work in focal countries and around the world.