The genus Carduelis is a large group of birds in the finch family Fringillidae. It includes the greenfinches, redpolls, goldfinches, linnets, the twite, and the non-African siskins. 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. It is fairly certain that the crossbills are actually derived from proto-redpoll ancestors quite recently, and it was suggested that they should be placed in the same genus, for which the name Loxia would then have priority. On the other hand, the greenfinches (which are apparently the most distinct group) and the redpolls 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 indicates that the major lineages split in the Late Miocene (Tortonian, roughly 9-7 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 (Ryan et al, 2004). 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 his genus) would remain in Carduelis.


(Sub)Genus Chloris


(Sub)Genus Acanthis


(Sub)Genus Loxia

  • 3 - 5+ species

Carduelis sensu stricto

Carduelis group

Linaria group - linnets and Twite

Spinus group - American goldfinches and siskins

American goldfinches

Northern siskins

Neotropical siskins

Fossil species

Possible Carduelis species

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


  • African Bird Club list (Passerines).
  • Alcover, J. A.; Florit, F. 1987. Una nueva especie de Carduelis (Fringillidae) de La Palma. Vieraea 17 : 75-86
  • Arnaiz-Villena, A.; Álvarez-Tejado, M.; Ruiz-del-Valle, V.; García-de-la-Torre, C.; Varela, P.; Recio, M. J.; Ferre. S. & Martínez-Laso, J. (1998): Phylogeny and rapid Northern and Southern Hemisphere speciation of goldfinches during the Miocene and Pliocene Epochs. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 54(9): 1031–1041. PDF fulltext Erratum, Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 55(1): 148. PDF fulltext
  • Arnaiz-Villena, A., Moscoso, J., Ruiz-del-Valle, V., Gonzalez, J., Reguera, R., Wink, M., I. Serrano-Vela, J. 2007. Bayesian phylogeny of Fringillinae birds: status of the singular African oriole finch Linurgus olivaceus and evolution and heterogeneity of the genus Carpodacus. Acta Zoologica Sinica, 53 (5):826 - 834. PDF fulltext
  • Arnaiz-Villena, A., Ruiz-del-Valle, V., Moscoso, J., Serrano-Vela, J., & Zamora, J. 2007. mtDNA phylogeny of North American Carduelis pinus group. Ardeola, 54(1): p.1-14.
  • 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.
  • Zamora, Jorge; Lowy, Ernesto; Ruiz-del-Valle, Valentin; Moscoso, Juan; Serrano-Vela, Juan Ignacio; Rivero-de-Aguilar, Juan & Arnaiz-Villena, Antonio (2006): Rhodopechys obsoleta (desert finch): a pale ancestor of greenfinches (Carduelis spp.) according to molecular phylogeny. Journal of Ornithology 147(3): 448–456. (HTML abstract). Erratum, Journal of Ornithology 147(3): 511–512
  • Van der Meij, M.A.A.; de Bakker, M.A.G. & Bout, R.G. A phylogeny of finches and their relatives based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.


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