The common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), usually known simply as the chaffinch, is a common and widespread small passerine bird in the finch family. The male is brightly coloured with a blue-grey cap and rust-red underparts. The female is much duller in colouring, but both sexes have two contrasting white wing bars and white sides to the tail. The male bird has a strong voice and sings from exposed perches to attract a mate.
The chaffinch breeds in much of Europe, across Asia to Siberia and in northwest Africa. The female builds a nest with a deep cup in the fork of a tree. The clutch is typically four or five eggs, which hatch in about 13 days. The chicks fledge in around 14 days, but are fed by both adults for several weeks after leaving the nest. Outside the breeding season, chaffinches form flocks in open countryside and forage for seeds on the ground. During the breeding season, they forage on trees for invertebrates, especially caterpillars, and feed these to their young. They are partial migrants; birds breeding in warmer regions are sedentary, while those breeding in the colder northern areas of their range winter further south.
The eggs and nestlings of the chaffinch are taken by a variety of mammalian and avian predators. Its large numbers and huge range mean that chaffinches are classed as of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The chaffinch was described by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758 in the 10th edition of his Systema Naturae under its current binomial name. Fringilla is the Latin word for a finch, while caelebs means unmarried or single. Linnaeus remarked that during the Swedish winter, only the female birds migrated south through Belgium to Italy.
The English name comes from the Old English ceaffinc, where ceaf is "chaff" and finc "finch". Chaffinches were likely given this name because after farmers thresh their crops, these birds sometimes spend weeks picking through heaps of discarded chaff for grain. The chaffinch is one of the many birds depicted in the marginal decoration of the 15th century English illuminated manuscript the Sherborne Missal. The English naturalist William Turner described the chaffinch in his book on birds published in 1544. Although the text is in Latin, Turner gives the English name as chaffinche and lists two folk names: sheld-appel and spink. The word sheld is a dialectal word meaning pied or multicoloured (as in shelduck). Appel may be related to Alp, an obsolete word for a bullfinch. The name spink is probably derived from the bird's call note. The names spink and shell apple are among the many folk names listed for the chaffinch by Reverend Charles Swainson in his Provincial Names and Folk Lore of British Birds (1885).
The Fringillidae are all seed-eaters with stout conical bills. They have similar skull morphologies, nine large primaries, 12 tail feathers and no crop. In all species, the female builds the nest, incubates the eggs, and broods the young. Finches are divided into two subfamilies, the Carduelinae, containing around 28 genera with 141 species and the Fringillinae containing a single genus, Fringilla, with three species: the chaffinch (F. coelebs), the Tenerife blue chaffinch (F. teydea), and the brambling (F. montifringilla). Fringilline finches raise their young almost entirely on arthropods, while the cardueline finches raise their young on regurgitated seeds.
A number of subspecies of the chaffinch have been described based principally on the differences in the pattern and colour of the adult male plumage. Subspecies can be divided into three groups: the "coelebs group" that occurs in Europe and Asia, the "spondiogenys group" in North Africa, and the "canariensis group" on the Canary Islands. The subspecies from Madeira and the Azores are placed either in the "canariensis group" or in the "spondiogenys group". Genetic studies indicate that members of the "coelebs group" and the "spondiogenys group" are more closely related to each other than they are to members of the "canariensis group".
Within the "spondiogenys group", the gradual clinal variation over the large geographic range and the extensive intergradation means that the geographical limits and acceptance of the various subspecies varies between authorities. The International Ornithologists' Union lists 11 subspecies from this group, whereas Peter Clement in the Handbook of Birds of the World lists seven and considers the features of the subspecies balearica (Mallorca), caucasica (southern Caucasus), schiebeli (southern Greece, Crete and western Turkey), and tyrrhenica (Corsica) to fall within the variation of the nominate subspecies. He also suggests that the subspecies alexandrovi, sarda, solomkoi, and syriaca may represent variations of the nominate subspecies.
The authors of a 2009 molecular phylogenetic study on the three subspecies that were recognised on the Canary Islands concluded that they are sufficiently distinct in both genotype and phenotype to be considered as separate species within the genus Fringilla. They also proposed a revised distribution of subspecies on the islands in which the birds on La Palma (palmae) and El Hierro (ombrioso) are grouped together as a single subspecies while the current canariensis subspecies is split into two with one subspecies occurring only on Gran Canaria and the other on La Gomera and Tenerife. The results of a study published in 2018 confirmed the earlier findings. The authors formerly described the Gran Canaria variety as a subspecies and coined the trinomial name Fringilla coelebs bakeri.
The chaffinch is about 14.5 cm (5.7 in) long, with a wingspan of 24.5–28.5 cm (9.6–11.2 in) and a weight of 18–29 g (0.63–1.02 oz). The adult male of the nominate subspecies has a black forehead and a blue-grey crown, nape and upper mantle. The rump is a light olive-green; the lower mantle and scapulars form a brown saddle. The side of head, throat and breast are a dull rust-red merging to a pale creamy-pink on the belly. The central pair of tail feathers are dark grey with a black shaft streak. The rest of the tail is black apart from the two outer feathers on each side which have white wedges. Each wing has a contrasting white panel on the coverts and a buff-white bar on the secondaries and inner primaries. The flight feathers are black with white on the basal portions of the vanes. The secondaries and inner primaries have pale yellow fringes on the outer web whereas the outer primaries have a white outer edge.
After the autumn moult the tips of the new feathers have a buff fringe that adds a brown cast to the coloured plumage. The ends of the feathers wear away over the winter so that by the spring breeding season the underlying brighter colours are displayed. The eyes have dark brown irises and the legs are grey-brown. In winter the bill is a pale grey and slightly darker along the upper ridge or culmen, but in spring the bill becomes bluish-grey with a small black tip.
The male of the subspecies resident in the British Isles (F. c. gengleri) closely resembles the nominate subspecies but has a slightly darker mantle and underparts. The males of the two North Africa subspecies F. c. africana and F. c. spodiogenys have a blue-grey crown and nape that extends down to the sides of the head and neck, a black forehead and lore, a broken white eye-ring, a bright olive-green saddle and a pink-buff throat and breast. The males of F. c. canariensis and F. c. palmae in the Canary Islands have deep slate-blue upperparts and lack a contrasting mantle. Male chaffinches in Madeira (F. c. maderensis) and the Azores (F. c. moreletti) are similar in appearance to F. c. canariensis but have a bright green mantle.
The adult female is much duller in appearance than the male. The head and most of upperparts are shades of grey-brown. The underparts are paler. The lower back and rump are a dull olive green. The wings and tail are similar to those of the male. The juvenile resembles the female.
The powerful song is well known, and it is possible that the fink or vink sounding call gives the finch family its English name. Males typically sing two or three different song types, and there are regional dialects too.
The acquisition by the young chaffinch of its song was the subject of an influential study by British ethologist William Thorpe. Thorpe determined that if the chaffinch is not exposed to the adult male's song during a certain critical period after hatching, it will never properly learn the song. He also found that in adult chaffinches, castration eliminates song, but injection of testosterone induces such birds to sing even in November, when they are normally silent.
The chaffinch breeds in wooded areas where the July isotherm is between 12 and 30 °C (54 and 86 °F). The breeding range includes northwest Africa, most of Europe and extends eastwards across temperate Asia to the Angara River and the southern end of Lake Baikal in Siberia. There are also a number of distinctive subspecies on the Azores, the Canary Islands and the Madeira Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The chaffinch was introduced from Britain into several of its overseas territories in the second half of the 19th century. In New Zealand the chaffinch had colonised both the North and South Islands by 1900 and is now one of the most widespread and common passerine species. In South Africa a very small breeding colony in the suburbs of Constantia, Hout Bay and Camps Bay in Cape Town is the only remnant of another such introduction.
This bird is not migratory in the milder parts of its range, but vacates the colder regions in winter. This species forms loose flocks outside the breeding season, sometimes mixed with bramblings. This bird occasionally strays to eastern North America, although some sightings may be escapees.
Chaffinches first breed when they are one year old. They are mainly monogamous and the pair-bond for residential subspecies such as gengleri sometimes persists from one year to the next. The date for breeding is dependent on the spring temperature and is earlier in southwest Europe and later in the northeast. In Britain most clutches are laid between late April and the middle of June. A male attracts a female to his territory through song.
Nests are built entirely by the female and are usually located in the fork of a bush or a tree several metres above the ground. The nest has a deep cup and is lined with a layer of thin roots and feathers. The outside is covered with a layer of lichen and spider silk over an inner layer of moss and grass. The eggs are laid in early morning at daily intervals until the clutch is complete. The clutch is typically 4–5 eggs which are smooth and slightly glossy but very variable in colour. They range from pale-blueish green to light red with purple brown blotches, spots or steaks. The average size of an egg is 19 mm × 15 mm (0.75 in × 0.59 in) with a weight of 2.2 g (0.078 oz). The eggs are incubated for 10–16 days by the female. The chicks are altricial, hatching nearly naked with closed eyes, and are fed by both parents but mainly by the female who broods them for around six days. They are mainly fed caterpillars. The nestlings fledge 11–18 days after hatching and disperse. The young birds are then assisted with feeding by both parents for a further three weeks. The parents only very rarely start a second brood, but when they do so it is always in a new nest. Juveniles undergo a partial moult at around five weeks of age in which they replace their head, body and many of their covert feathers but not their primary and secondary flight feathers. After breeding adult birds undergo a complete annual moult which lasts around ten weeks.
In a study carried out in Britain using ring-recovery data, the survival rate for juveniles in their first year was 53 per cent, and the adult annual survival rate was 59 per cent. From these figures the typical lifespan is only three years, but the maximum age recorded is 15 years and 6 months for a bird in Switzerland.
Outside the breeding season, chaffinches mainly eat seeds and other plant material that they find on the ground. They often forage in open country in large flocks. Chaffinches seldom take food directly from plants and only very rarely use their feet for handling food. During the breeding season, their diet switches to invertebrates especially defoliating caterpillars. They forage in trees and also occasionally make short sallies to catch insects in the air. The young are entirely fed with invertebrates which include caterpillars, aphids, earwigs, spiders and the larvae of beetles.
The eggs and nestlings of the chaffinch are predated by crows, red and grey squirrels, domestic cats and probably also by stoats and weasels. Clutches begun later in the spring suffer less predation, an effect that is believed to be due to the increased vegetation making nests more difficult to find. Unlike the case for the closely related brambling, the chaffinch is not parasitised by the common cuckoo.
The protozoal parasite Trichomonas gallinae was known to infect pigeons and raptors but beginning in Britain in 2005, carcases of dead European greenfinches and chaffinches were found to be infected with the parasite. The disease spread and in 2008 infected carcases were found in Norway, Sweden and Finland and a year later in Germany. The spread of the disease is believed to have been mediated by chaffinches as large numbers of the birds breed in northern Europe and winter in Britain. In Britain the number of infected carcases recovered each year declined after a peak in 2006. There was a reduction in the number of greenfinches but no significant decline in the overall number of chaffinches. A similar pattern occurred in Finland where, after the arrival of the disease in 2008, there was a reduction in the number of greenfinches but only a small change in the number of chaffinches.
Chaffinches can develop tumors on their feet and legs caused by the Fringilla coelebs papillomavirus. The size of the papillomas range from a small nodule on a digit to a large growth involving both the foot and the leg. The disease is uncommon: in a 1973 study undertaken in the Netherlands, of around 25,000 chaffinches screened only 330 bore papillomas.
The chaffinch has an extensive range, estimated at 7 million square kilometres (3.7 million square miles) and a large population including an estimated 130–240 million breeding pairs in Europe. Allowing for the birds breeding in Asia, the total population lies between 530–1,400 million individuals. There is no evidence of any serious overall decline in numbers, so the species is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as being of Least Concern.
The endemic subspecies on the Macaronesian islands in the Atlantic are vulnerable to the loss of habitat, especially F. c. ombriosa on El Hierro in the Canary Islands where the breeding population is between 1000-5000 pairs.
The chaffinch was once popular as a caged song bird and large numbers of wild birds were trapped and sold. At the end of the 19th century trapping even depleted the number of birds in London parks. In 1882 the English publisher Samuel Orchart Beeton issued a guide on the care of caged birds and included the recommendation: "To parents and guardians plagued with a morose and sulky boy, my advice is, buy him a chaffinch." Competitions were held where bets were placed on which caged chaffinch would repeat its song the greatest number of times. The birds were sometimes blinded with a hot needle in the belief that this encouraged them to sing. This practice is the subject of the poem The Blinded Bird by the English author Thomas Hardy which contrasts the cruelty involved in blinding the birds with their zestful song. In Britain the practice of keeping chaffinches as pets declined after the trapping of wild birds was outlawed by the Wild Birds Protection Acts of 1880 to 1896.
The chaffinch is still a popular pet bird in some European countries. In Belgium, the traditional sport of vinkenzetting pits male chaffinches against one another in a contest for the most bird calls in an hour.
Alder Moors is a local nature reserve in Woodley. The nature reserve is owned and managed by Wokingham Borough Council. The name 'Aldermoors' derives from the alder trees that populate this reserve.Brambling
The brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae. It has also been called the cock o' the north and the mountain finch. It is widespread and migratory, often seen in very large flocks.Chaffinch (disambiguation)
Chaffinch is a name applied to some birds in the genus Fringilla and may refer to:
Common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
La Palma chaffinch (F. c. palmae)
Madeiran chaffinch (F. c. maderensis)
Gran Canaria blue chaffinch (Fringilla polatzeki)
Tenerife blue chaffinch (Fringilla teydea)Dresano
Dresano (Lombard: Dresan [dreˈzãː]) is a comune (municipality) in the Metropolitan City of Milan in the Italian region Lombardy, located about 20 kilometres (12 mi) southeast of Milan.
Dresano borders the following municipalities: Mediglia, Tribiano, Mulazzano, Colturano, Vizzolo Predabissi, Casalmaiocco.Fringilla
The genus Fringilla is a small group of finches from the Old World, which are the only species in the subfamily Fringillinae. The genus name Fringilla is Latin for "finch".The four species are:
The common chaffinch is found primarily in forest habitats, in Europe, North Africa, and western Asia; the blue chaffinch is an island endemic; and the brambling breeds in the northern taiga and southern tundra of Eurasia.The three species are about the same size, 15 centimetres (5.9 in) in length, and are similar in shape. They have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings. They are not as specialised as the other finches, eating both insects and seeds. While breeding, they feed their young on insects rather than seeds, unlike the other finches.In 2016 it was proposed that the extremely rare Gran Canaria subspecies F. teydea polatzeki be treated as a separate species, thus creating a fourth species, F. polatzeki.Gedser Odde
Gedser Odde on the island of Falster in the Baltic Sea is Denmark's southernmost point. The terminal moraine from Idestrup through Skelby to Gedser is part of the maximum glaciation line across Falster, from Orehoved to Gedser. Fronted by low cliffs, the ridge, 5–7 m (16–23 ft) high, continues underwater a further 18 km (11 mi) south-east to Gedser Rev. Sydstenen (the south stone) marks the southernmost point.Horbach, Westerwaldkreis
Horbach is an Ortsgemeinde – a community belonging to a Verbandsgemeinde – in the Westerwaldkreis in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.House bunting
The house bunting (Emberiza sahari) is a passerine bird in the bunting family Emberizidae.
It is a resident breeder of dry country from north-western Africa from Morocco south to Mali and east to Chad. In Morocco, the species has expanded from the Atlas Mountains northwards since the 1960s, and has recently reached Tangier and Tétouan on the southern shore of the Strait of Gibraltar. The house bunting breeds around human habitation, laying two to four eggs in a nest in a hole in a wall or building. Its natural food consists seeds, or when feeding young, insects.
It is 14 cm long, similar in size to the striolated bunting and smaller than the rock bunting. The breeding male has a sandy orange-brown body and a grey head slightly dark-streaked but without the white supercilium that the striolated bunting has. The female's head has a brown tint to the grey, and more diffused streaking.
The house bunting has recently been split from the closely related striolated bunting, of which it used to be treated as a subspecies, Emberiza striolata sahari. The striolated bunting has stronger facial striping and a paler belly than the house bunting.The incubation period of the clutch of three eggs is 12–14 days.
The song, given from a perch, is similar to, but weaker than, that of the common chaffinch.
In Morocco, the species is traditionally regarded as sacred, and has become very tame, freely entering and feeding inside houses, shops and mosques.Järveküla Nature Reserve
Järveküla Nature Reserve is a nature reserve founded in 1990, situated by Lake Vörtsjärv in southern Estonia (Viljandi County) near the village of Järveküla. The nature reserve has been established to protect the population of white-tailed eagles present in the area, and includes pine forest and patches of bog.Other birds found in Järveküla Nature Reserve include: the Barn swallow (the national bird of Estonia), Eurasian wryneck, Eurasian golden oriole, Icterine warbler, River warbler, Spotted flycatcher, Eurasian tree sparrow, Common chaffinch, European greenfinch, European pied flycatcher, Eurasian skylark, Fieldfare, White wagtail, Yellowhammer, Hooded crow, Garden warbler, Grey heron, Eurasian blue tit, Eurasian blackcap, Common rosefinch, European goldfinch and Common chiffchaff among others.La Palma chaffinch
The La Palma chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs palmae), also known as the Palman chaffinch or, locally in Spanish as the pinzón palmero or pinzón hembra, is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae. It is a subspecies of the common chaffinch that is endemic to La Palma in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago that forms part of Macaronesia in the North Atlantic Ocean.Loch Garten
Loch Garten (Scots Gaelic: Loch a' Ghartain) is a large Highland freshwater loch near Boat of Garten, in the Strathspey area of the Cairngorms National Park, in Scotland. It is surrounded by the tall pine trees of the Abernethy Forest, a large area (adjacent to the loch) of which is an RSPB nature reserve. The loch is renowned for its breeding population of ospreys, which lend Boat of Garten its nickname "The Osprey Village".
Careless behaviour towards the osprey in Britain throughout the 19th century meant that it became extinct as a breeding bird by the early 20th. However, in 1954 two Scandinavian breeding birds came to Garten completely of their own accord and set up a nest in the forest by the loch. Slowly the species recolonised Scotland (for more information see ospreys in Britain), and the RSPB and other organisations helped them along the way (not an easy task due to the illegal activities of egg collectors and other irresponsible people). The reserve was purchased by the charity and since then the nest has always been closely monitored. Recently a viewing hide was built relatively near (but not too near) to the nest so that visitors may come and see these birds of prey easily. The hide has telescopes and other optical devices inside, as well as television screens showing close-up views of the fledglings and their parents. Live video and still pictures of the nest can be viewed on the RSPB Loch Garten Reserve web-site.
Ospreys are not the only creatures to be found at Loch Garten. Capercaillies, though difficult to see, do inhabit the remoter parts of the reserve and can be seen performing their annual lek via the spring "Caperwatch". Red squirrels can be seen very easily around the hide, especially on the feeders put out for them. Smaller birds such as the siskin, common chaffinch (in very large numbers) and great spotted woodpecker are also present and easy to spot on the feeders. The crested tit and Scottish crossbill are more reserved in their behaviour and more difficult to find. Wigeon live by and swim on the loch.Madeiran chaffinch
The Madeiran chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs maderensis) is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae. It is a subspecies of the common chaffinch that is endemic to the Portuguese island of Madeira, part of Macaronesia in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is locally known as the tentilhão.Silkosiya Reserve
Silkosia (Bulgarian: Силкосия) is a nature reserve in Strandzha Nature Park, located in the homonymous mountain, southeastern Bulgaria. Its territory close to the villages Kosti and Balgari. Silkosia is the oldest reserve in the country, declared on 23 July 1931 in order to protect the evergreen bushes unique for Europe. It encompasses part of the Veleka river catchment area with a territory of 389.6 ha or 3.896 km2. The terrain is various, in the lower parts there are predominantly swamp areas with typical Central European flora. The reserve encompasses territory between 100 and 250 m altitude and is thus among the lowest-lying nature reserves in the country.Spink
Spink may refer to:
Common chaffinch, a small bird in the finch family
Spinka (Hasidic dynasty)Striolated bunting
The striolated bunting (Emberiza striolata) is a passerine bird in the bunting family Emberizidae, a group now separated by most modern authors from the finches, Fringillidae.Tenerife blue chaffinch
The Tenerife blue chaffinch (Fringilla teydea) is a species of passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae. It is endemic to Tenerife in Spain's Canary Islands. This bird is the natural symbol of this island, together with the Canary Islands dragon tree.USS Chaffinch
USS Chaffinch may refer to one of the following United States Navy ships named after the common chaffinch:
USS Chaffinch (AM-81), was built in 1928 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding in Quincy, Massachusetts as Trimont. She was purchased by the Navy on 29 November 1940 and commissioned 16 July 1941.
USS Chaffinch (AMCU-18), the former USS LSI(L)-694 converted to a coastal minesweeper in 1952Whitewing
Whitewing may refer to:
Common chaffinch, a small bird of the finch family
Velvet scoter, a bird of the duck family
Whitewing, a character in the Warriors novel series written by Erin Hunter