Learn all about the blue finch, a select bird.

The Tenerife Blue Chaffinch (Fringilla teydea) or Teide finch, is a type of winged passerine animal of the finch group (Fringillidae). It is a selective endemism of this island. It is considered, according to a law of the Government of the Canary Islands, as a creature image of the island of Tenerife, along with the mythical tree beast as a plant image. (See Article About: Corvidae).

The blue chaffinch is the characteristic image of the island of Tenerife, as indicated by the Government of the Canary Islands, this beautiful and exemplary feathered creature shows a faint blue plumage and lives in the Canarian pine forests, in small groups or alone.

According to some investigations, its beginning could be due to an invasion of common finches coming from Africa many years ago, which after some time became another subspecies due to its isolation in Tenerife.

Characteristics

  • The blue chaffinch resembles the common chaffinch, despite the fact that they are detectably larger and have thicker bills. (See article on: Psittacosis).
  • They are described by their gray beak and have more uniform plumage, in which the dark wings protrude.
  • The females are of a duller, darker grayish shade, although they are unique in relation to those of normal finches, as they have tighter wings, while the males in the breeding season are unquestionable due to their blue plumage, the same changes from a bluish-gray tone what remains of the year.
  • Its size is basically the same as that of the finch, so the Blue Chaffinch can reach lengths of 16.5 cm, varying this measure according to the individual characteristics of each specimen and the sex that each one may have.
  • The wingspan (distance from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other) of these birds can reach lengths between 26.5 cm and 31.5 cm.
  • The color of male Blue Chaffinches is gray with a faint pale blue tinge, particularly on the head and back. Generally the forehead of older specimens is darker, and like all finches, shows a small crest when frightened.
  • The females and adolescents of this species, unlike these, are not completely separated and have a color that is considerably less striking, governed by dark gray tones.
  • This particular species is recognized by the fact that they are feathered creatures with strong and more prominent beaks than the common finch.
  • There are two subspecies, both fundamentally the same, despite the fact that the Polatzeki is slightly different from the Teydea mainly because of its small size and because it possesses an opaque band on the forehead that is located above the highest point of the beak.
  • The Blue Chaffinch is a bird that usually lives in groups and mixes with different species, for example, common finches, especially in winter. Although, in spring it is a very territorial bird (See Article About: Newcastle Disease).

Habitat and distribution of the Blue Chaffinch

The Blue Chaffinch is a novice that is discovered only in the interior of the island of Tenerife. Its main territory is the mountain forest of canary pine (Pinus canariensis). The closeness of the species is based on the type of undergrowth, with an inclination to tagasaste (Chamaecytisus proliferus), and pine forests with understory shrubs and layers of fayas and heather, and also the presence of specific maturity pines.

It is inclined towards environments with an elevation between 1100-2000 m, despite the fact that it goes down to lower altitudes in the presence of in a terrible climate. The effect on the number of inhabitants in Fingilia teydea due to the fire in Tenerife in July 2012, has not yet been examined.

The current population size of the Blue Chaffinch is unknown, although it has dared to expand recently. Bird censuses are infrequent and even more so when it comes to species that have so few members.

The Blue Chaffinch has two subspecies, one outside Tenerife, with no more than 1,000 pairs in total, and another in Gran Canaria, where it is an exceptionally rare bird and extremely sparse in population.

The Blue Chaffinch is a species that can be found only in Spain, this specimen has populations only on two islands: Tenerife and Gran Canaria. In the main one, the subspecies Teydea is perceived; and in Gran Canaria, the subspecies Polatzeki.(See Article About: The Eideres).

It is a stationary winged animal, exceptionally attached to the regions where it breeds. In fact, the longest recorded journeys made by this bird do not exceed 5 kilometers.

Behavior

Their tuning is shorter and weaker than that of the basic finch and their mid-flight calls are more conspicuous. Blue finches feed mainly on canary pine seeds, but unlike other alternative finches, their chicks feed only on insects.

They breed from May to July. They build their homes in tree branches and lay two eggs. They are of the sedentary bird type and, for the most part, are solitary feathered creatures that form small bands or groups outside the breeding season, occasionally in conjunction with finches and other birds of the family Fringilidae.

See article: Automatic Bird Feeders

Blue Chaffinch Song

The sound this flying creature emanates when perched is a solid chriia. The melody of the males can often be reminiscent of that of the common finch, however it is less intense and different, a sitt-sitt-sitt, ruharuha, rruuaaa. (See Article About: The Crowned Eagle).

Feeding

Feeds mainly on pine nuts, and in the spring balances its feeding regime and feeds the chicks with insect varieties. They forage for pine nuts on the ground and on pine branches. Insects are obtained on the fly, on the bark of pine trees or additionally on the ground.

There are many data that tell us about the feeding of the Blue Chaffinch in the wild, which is based on pine nuts, broom seeds, earthworms and insects, but there are few data collected on the breeding of this bird at home, perhaps because its capture and trapping are not allowed due to the small population that can be found.

Although there are some data that have been given by some fans of these birds, which speak about the feasibility of keeping this finch based on a common granitic diet, which can be enriched with tender pine nuts and can also be annexed some supplement made of egg yolk paste, ant nymphs or fruit fly pupae, in order to supplement their diet in captivity. (See Article About: Carduelis Magellanica).

Reproduction and breeding

Blue finches seek mates towards the end of winter and ideally begin mating between May and June. The female forms a home in the tops of pine trees or sometimes in shrubs, making it from pine needles, vegetation, thin branches and lichens, which she covers with feathers, hair and thick plant parts.

It simply lays one clutch, despite the fact that it may lay a second if a problem arises during the main breeding effort. Egg laying is small, laying about two eggs, which have blue or greenish-white and pink, purple or dark shading.

Hatching occurs between 13 and 14 days after the eggs have been laid and the task of incubation falls to the female. In addition, she, with or without the help of the male, for the most part takes care, for a period of 2 to 3 weeks, of the feeding of the chicks until they are able to fend for themselves.

On some occasions it can be seen that the feeding of the chicks can be done by both parents, but this will depend on the individual behavioral characteristics of each male in the relationship.

Diseases of the Blue Chaffinch

Birds are very sensitive to any minuscule change in their environment, especially if they have already become accustomed to a system of life, which is why we seek to preserve the ecosystem so as not to gradually affect a species to the point of extinction. (See Article About: The Carduelis Flammea).

In nature birds are affected by abrupt changes produced by the intrusion of some agents within their ecosystem, humans are one of the main reasons why many species of birds have disappeared and every day we must seek to cause the least possible damage and create awareness in the rest of people.

During captivity the conditions of birds change too much to what they have been used to in nature, so we must try to balance each factor that favors the development of these species, and the place where they will be kept in captivity should resemble as much as possible to their natural environment.

The Blue Chaffinch, besides presenting the classic conditions of the finches, can also be seen as a discoloration of the plumage in captive specimens, attributable to a deficient diet in vegetables that favor regular pigmentation.

In case you manage to have one of these specimens in captivity, it is advisable to follow all the advice expressed here regarding their feeding and the establishment of a suitable environment that resembles the natural one.

Although it is advisable that the birds in captivity are constantly checked by a veterinarian or expert in the subject, to ensure that they will have an optimal state of health. In case of any imperfection or any symptom of disease in your pet should be taken at once to the veterinarian.

Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch

The blue chaffinch is a winged creature endemic to the Pinar de Inagua, Canary Islands. The species, with an aggregate distribution territory of about 30 km2, had fewer than 200 specimens in 2008 after the large blazes that had occurred a year earlier. Another review, in which the National Museum of Natural Sciences is interested, finds the most appropriate territories for the reintroduction of this winged animal.

After about 25 long periods of development, the scientist of the National Museum of Natural Sciences (MNCN-CSIC), Luis M. Carrascal, together with Ángel Moreno, specialist of the Ministry of Environment of the Government of the Canary Islands and the ecological expert Alejandro Delgado , have been able to verify the great versatility of the blue finches, Fringilla polatzeki, of Gran Canaria, whose population has discovered how to recover, and even increase, after the calamitous fire suffered by its solitary known dispersal territory in 2007.

In addition, their studies described the perfect conditions for the survival of this species, useful data that will allow finding new territories for the reintroduction of these specimens in order to prevent their disappearance and keep them protected in case of an incident such as the last fire.

Since the Pinar de Inagua was declared an essential normal retention (reserve) in 1994, the fullness of the populations of the Blue Chaffinch, a small winged creature of the Fringilidae group, has been observed. It is a selective endemism of Gran Canaria where its appropriation is limited to the territory of the Pinar de Inagua-Ojeda-Pajonales.

The rate of population increase of the Blue Chaffinch was constant in Inagua from 1994 until before the fire, when its population decreased significantly. Since 2008, the population has been expanding step by step to the point of achieving the most remarkable thickness on record with an expansion of almost 24%, approximately 16 birds per square kilometer, in 2016. (See Article About: The Gavia Stellada).

But if the year after the fire is taken into account, the normal rate of individuals has remained moderately stable at this site, maintaining the range of 9 and 16 specimens per square kilometer, the lowest number and smallest population ever in any study of birds of this size in the entire western Palearctic.

This research shows that these small feathered creatures have a gigantic perseverance in catastrophic occasions and that, despite the fact that the formation of the Inagua reserve did not help much in a total population increase, nor did it insure the species against a statistical emergency, it is more than likely to maintain a deeper decline in its populations over the course of the last 25 years.

The current situation of this specimen in the Canary Islands has led various organizations or individuals to go in search of new regions to repopulate this majestic bird and thus prevent it from disappearing like other bird species.

The pine forests of Inagua stand out among other autochthonous pine forests of Gran Canaria that are better protected. With more than 30 square kilometers, it reaches through the focal zone of the island and crosses deep gorges secured with canary pine (Pinus canariensis) at an altitude ranging from 1000 to approximately 1600 meters.

In addition to representing and concentrating the number of blue finch inhabitants, analysts have analyzed the orographic, climatic and natural conditions that these flying creatures need to recreate effectively. The ideal habitat should contain pine forests with trees more than 15 to 20 meters high, not extremely thick (having twenty-five to fifty percent tree cover), located more than 1,100 meters above sea level and where rainfall averages 13 to 24 liters per square meter of land in the middle of the year.

Understanding the spatial impediments facing species with so few areas of appropriation can help to find sufficient space to create reintroduction or exchange programs.

By demonstrating the example of appropriation of the species in Inagua, the creators foresee to what extent other memorable pine forests of Gran Canaria are reasonable for the effective propagation of the Blue Chaffinch. Among them, the pine forest of Tamadaba stands out, which this species formerly occupied and would have about 2 square kilometers of appropriate territory.

In spite of the great efforts that have been made to maintain this bird that is on the verge of extinction, it continues to be threatened by all the difficulties it has to go through, which is why every day new alternatives are sought to avoid the eradication of the Gran Canaria Chaffinch.

The Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch, which until now has been considered as one of the two subspecies of the Blue Chaffinch, has been introduced as another species in the last amendment of the World Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

This recognition of the world expert, regarding the condition of nature and normal assets, was exhibited at the thirteenth Conference of the Parties, which was held in Mexico.

With this new order, this exceptional feathered creature is going to swell the list of the world’s most debilitated birds, to join the “Endangered” classification together with different species that can be found in Spain, for example, the Egyptian Vulture or the White-headed Duck.

According to the Spanish geography and according to the World Red List, the most affected species is the Balearic shearwater, which is also the most debilitated seabird in Europe and is considered by the IUCN as “Critically Endangered”.

In contrast to Tenerife, where the Blue Chaffinch is moderately inexhaustible and widely distributed in the island’s pine forests, the number of Blue Chaffinch inhabitants of Gran Canaria, or “pinzul” as it is colloquially known, is very low.

The majority of the population lives in the pine forests of the southwest of Gran Canaria, the pine forests of Inagua, Ojeda and Pajonales, although for some years there has been another nucleus found in the pine forests of the central point of the island, but this only has a few pairs.(See Article About: The Corvus Corone).

The independent survival of the blue chaffinch of Gran Canaria is conceivable if the extent of the population is essentially expanded in a moderately short space of time, despite the fact that the increase of the pine forest is appropriate, it is not a factor that helps much in this decisive moment of this species.

The Gran Canaria blue chaffinch was found in the 1900s by ornithologist Johann Polatzek. George Sangster now states that the taxonomic rank of the Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch should be raised from subspecies to species, ‘Fringilla polatzeki’.

The examination affected the remarkable contrasts between the Gran Canaria and Tenerife Blue Finches, both in plumage, morphology and melody, which together with the officially considered hereditary contrasts make this logical order worthy of its task as a group of animals.

There are diverse studies that have been done to get to classify this bird as a distinct species, a clear example is a report that was distributed in August 2016 in the journal ‘BioMedCentral Zoology’, prompted by Jan Lifjeld, in which he likewise bolstered these ends, this time completing a multifunctional examination alluding to melody, morphology and plumage shading, and additionally sperm attributes that differentiate this bird as a unique species.

It is hoped that the inclusion of the Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species will bring to light the need to recover and safeguard it. This will raise awareness among people to maintain another fundamental species of this island.

In this sense, the blue finch of Gran Canaria has a European Action Plan organized in 1996 (reconsidered in 2010) and a particular Recovery Plan in 2013, which seek after the strengthening of new foci of population with the release of specimens bred in captivity and the change in the genes of wild birds of the main population of this island.

The main objective is also to advance the association between the distinctive subpopulations by reconstructing the natural environment, with a specific end goal to ensure their survival.

Along these lines, in 2015 the “Life + Chaffinch” undertaking was affirmed, which plans to create until 2020 the main lines incorporated into these administrative records, also considering the control of species that weaken the preservation of the Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch and other needs species.

The most recent update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has consolidated 742 new species following an orderly modification driven by BirdLife International, the notes, which include that 11% of the new species are threatened and some have even been wiped out entirely.

In the case of the Blue Chaffinch of Gran Canaria, the biggest problems it has are usually achieved in animals that are endemic to the island and that considerably affect the development of its population.

Danger and preservation of the Blue Chaffinch

The fundamental problem for the populations of the two subspecies of Blue Chaffinch has been the loss of Canarian pine forests. From the point of view of the Gran Canaria finches, the circumstance is substantially more fragile, due to the modest numbers currently found and in light of the fact that they are mostly clustered in a solitary pine forest.

To this day, moreover, one of the best hostilities facing both subspecies has its origin in their illegal capture and exchange. The subspecies Teydea has the classification of “Vulnerable”, both in the Red Book of Winged Animals of Spain (2004) and in the National Catalogue of Threatened Species. Curiously, the subspecies Polatzeki is considered “Critically Endangered” in the Red Book, while in the National Catalogue of Threatened Species it is listed as “Endangered” and its situation is affected more and more every day despite the efforts to preserve these species.

Reclassification of the Blue Chaffinch

Until 2015, the blue chaffinch Fringilla teydea was organized into two subspecies: Fringilla teydea de Tenerife and Fringilla teydea polatzeki located in the mountainous locality of the southwestern part of the island of Gran Canaria. However, research distributed in March 2016 in the Journal of Avian Biology, shows that these are two distinct species that should be named: Fringilla teydea and Fringilla polatzeki.

The only one of its kind on the planet, the charming Teide Blue Chaffinch is a very confident bird species when it comes to approaching a human being, as it has almost no fear of humans, giving it the opportunity to get very close before escaping.

Unfortunately, this confidence, which should serve for the preservation of the species, has served numerous collectors to acquire quantities of these finches, destined for historical centers in other countries, even though they know that they are currently in danger of extinction. (See Article About: The Aegolius Funereus).