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Carduelis carduelis 1.jpg
The European goldfinch belongs to a group of red- or yellow-faced species.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Genus: Carduelis (but see article text)
Brisson, 1760

8 spp. possibly others, see text

The genus Carduelis[1][2] is a group of birds in the finch family Fringillidae. It formerly included the greenfinches, redpolls, crossbills, American goldfinches, and the non-African siskins before they were split into separate genera. No species of this group ranges far into Africa (where they are replaced by the related genus Serinus), and the centers of evolution were probably Eurasia and North America, with a secondary radiation in the Neotropics.

The interrelationship of these species is complex and contentious. The crossbills are actually derived from proto-redpoll ancestors quite recently, and they are now placed in the genus Loxia. The greenfinches (which are apparently the most distinct group) and the redpolls, though, have themselves been separated in distinct genera which might be the best way to express both the actual evolutionary relationships and the evolutionarily significant distinctiveness of the crossbills. The molecular data indicate the major lineages split in the Late Miocene (Tortonian, roughly 9-7 million years ago (mya), but it is unable to suggest any one robust arrangement either of the major groups among each other, among the lineages of Carduelis sensu stricto, or indeed among two separate Serinus lineages. [3] As only the mitochondrial cytochrome b sequence has hitherto been studied (Arnaiz-Villena et al., 1998), more data is clearly necessary.

Here, the species of Carduelis sensu lato are listed according to current knowledge. The genus Carduelis sensu stricto could conceivably be split further, and in this case only the European goldfinch and the citril and Corsican finch (newly placed in this genus) would remain in Carduelis. The South American classification of the AOU places South American siskins in the genus Sporagra, [4] but it has not been universally adopted.

Carduelis sensu stricto[edit]

Carduelis group

Linaria group - linnets and twite

Possible Carduelis species[edit]

These species may be related to various groups or subgenera currently classified as members of Carduelis but have yet to be studied biochemically:

  • Mountain serin, Serinus estherae - (relationships obscure)
  • Tibetan serin, Serinus thibetanus - (sometimes Tibetan siskin, Carduelis thibetana is used as in Grimmett et al. 1999).
  • Ankober serin, Serinus ankoberensis - (Carduelis ankoberensis on the African Bird Club list)
  • the golden-winged grosbeaks, Rhynchostruthus sp. - (Relationship with Carduelis discussed in Fry et al. 2004 and Martins 1987)

Recent taxonomical changes[edit]

On December 18, 2009, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in its authority as custodian of Clement's Checklist, made this statement: "In accord with NACC, here we split the genus Carduelis into four genera: Carduelis (linnets and twites), Spinus (siskins), Acanthis (redpolls), and Chloris (greenfinches). Similar revisions will need to be made with respect to Carpodacus and Serinus, but we defer making those changes until a later date.".[5] This follows a similar change published in the 50th supplement to the AOU Checklist of American Birds, "The subgenera Acanthis and Spinus are elevated to genera, and the genus Chloris is split from the genus Carduelis."[6]


  1. ^ From Latin carduus, "thistle". Thistle seeds are a favorite food of many species.
  2. ^ Arnaiz-Villena, Antonio; Gomez-Prieto, Pablo; Ruiz-del-Valle, Valentín (2010). "El género Carduelis" (PDF). Ornitología Práctica 42.  (in Spanish)
  3. ^ (Ryan et al., 2004).
  4. ^ Nguembock, B. J.; Fjeldsa; Couloux; Pasquet. (2009). "Molecular phylogeny of Carduelinae (Aves, Passeriformes, Fringillidae) proves polyphyletic origin of the genera Serinus and Carduelis and suggests redefined generic limits.". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 51: 169–181. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2008.10.022. 
  5. ^[dead link]
  6. ^
  • Alcover, J. A.; Florit, F. (1987). Una nueva especie de Carduelis (Fringillidae) de La Palma. Vieraea 17: 75-86.
  • Fry, H.; Keith, S.; Urban, E. & Woodcock, M. (2004). The Birds of Africa, Volume 7. Christopher Helm.
  • Grimmett, R.; Inskipp,C. & Inskipp, T. (1999). Birds of the Indian Subcontinent Princeton University Press.
  • Martins, R.P. 1987. The Golden-winged Grosbeak in North Yemen. Sandgrouse 9: 106-110.
  • Ryan, P.G.; Wright, D.; Oatley, G.; Wakeling, J.; Cohen, C.; Nowell, T.L.; Bowie, R.C.K.; Ward, V. & Crowe, T.M. (2004). Systematics of Serinus canaries and the status of Cape and Yellow-crowned Canaries inferred from mtDNA and morphology. Ostrich 75:288-294.
  • Van der Meij, M.A.A.; de Bakker, M.A.G. & Bout, R.G. (2005). Phylogenetic relationships of finches and allies based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37:97-105.

External links[edit]