Do you want to know everything about the Chaffinch? Learn it here

The chaffinch is a small-sized bird, this species of bird usually has well-defined colors and tones, it also has an ability to adapt easily to different environments and even to conservation areas where it receives special care.

As for its physical characteristics, the male usually has different shades that change depending on the season in which it is, usually is one of the aspects that makes this bird unique, the female of this species usually has lighter and more subtle colors, in the following article we will know more about this specimen.

The Chaffinch

The royal finch or also known by its scientific name Fringilla montifringilla, is a passerine bird, and belongs to the family Fringillidae, within its physical characteristics highlights the color of its white belly, its wings of dark tones and the contrasts of certain shades located on its body.

This specimen is considered less common than the common chaffinch, although on certain occasions it can be seen together in flocks found in Central Europe, especially in the winter season.

The Chaffinch usually emits different sounds as part of its usual behavior, since through these hard noises it communicates with other birds in its natural environment, also in many occasions it sings as part of its habits.

This bird makes its nest using different products of nature, and makes it with a very particular shape, as it is very similar to a cup, it is covered by the following materials:

  • It is lined with lichen
  • Bark
  • Roots
  • Stems
  • Hair
  • Feathers

Generally the female of this species harbors 5 to 7 eggs, which are laid in the clutch from May to June. Its diet is very varied, since it consumes seeds and different insects that it captures on the ground.

The Chaffinch is characterized in Scandinavia and northeastern Europe, in deciduous forests. In the winter seasons it is found throughout Europe, most often in beech, birch and spruce forests; it can gather in large flocks, comprising dozens to millions of these birds.

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Habitat

In general the most common habitat of the Chaffinch, is focused on places where there are mountain slopes, with many trees and scrub areas where they find a safe place and a good refuge.

The Chaffinch is a species of bird that adapts with great ease to different environments, usually this is established in the forests of northern Europe, also seeks to be located very often in the Iberian Peninsula where it is dedicated to get various types of food are on the ground and that are part of their daily consumption.

This bird is a migratory bird species, since it has a good resistance and capacity, for such reason it usually moves from one place to another according to the season in which it is, in a constant way when returning in spring to its reproduction zones it looks for places like Scandinavia and the northwest of Europe, since it is distributed by all the continent to spend the winter in a habitual way.

The Chaffinch is found in open places with ample vegetation, as it inhabits spruce forests and can also be found in different environments such as parks and gardens in a common way. (see article: Songbirds).

Reproduction

The Chaffinch has a somewhat complex stage of reproduction, just after arriving at the breeding sites, these birds begin to transmit certain sounds to call other birds, these specimens create mating pairs in small groups as part of their natural behavior.

The females of this species are characterized by being very selective in choosing a mate, this is done through a series of processes of their natural instinct, which are based on emitting a song, as well as it is important physical characteristics rather than selecting the nesting site to which they then focus.

For this reason the Chaffinch does not establish a defined breeding site, it usually presents a nomadic bird behavior especially during the breeding season, as it is part of its most distinctive characteristics.

Nesting

The nest of the chaffinch has a very particular shape similar to a cup, which is built with different resources found in nature, which include a base of lichens, pieces of tree bark, roots and as part of these materials the stems, which are lined with hair and feathers.

The female of this species lays about 5 to 7 eggs, which she incubates for a period of two weeks. After feeding the chicks and providing them with the necessary care, they will adapt to their new environment and gradually begin to leave the nest until they become completely independent.

As for the basic details of the construction of the nest, they establish it in a tree or bush, which has a height of 1.15 meters. They build it with different objects from nature, among which are sticks, moss, straw, and also usually generate a covering that contains feathers, hair, fragments with moss, various elements, which are used to create their ideal space.

Feeding

The chaffinch is a species that forages for different types of food in its natural environment, focusing on catching small insects in the summer season. In the winter season they feed mainly on different products, ranging from seeds to autumn fruits.

As for its capacity and resistance, it is quite good since it reaches a generally fast flight and is able to travel long distances during migration seasons. It usually travels to different places in large flocks since it is a very gregarious bird and for this reason it is common that it can gather in groups of thousands of specimens.

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Natural Environment

The chaffinch is a bird that is usually present in the Natural Park of the Sierra de Baza, this is dedicated to regularly travel its mountain slopes during the cold season, which starts from the month of October to reach the month of March, just to reach this date returns to the northern areas of Europe for reproduction, this as part of their natural habit.

Usually being a winter visitor it is possible to observe its presence in the coldest days of the winter, sometimes it usually moves less than other species of birds close to it.

Characteristics

The chaffinch is a bird whose characteristics make it stand out from the rest, since its colors are well marked and defined, among its main features stand out:

  • This specimen is characterized for being familiar of the common finch, although in its aspect certain differences can be appreciated in an easy way, since its tones are different and the rump is clearer, as for the color it possesses an orange tonality of the chest and in certain zones of the body.
  • The size of this bird is small, about 14 to 16 cm long, and its weight is about 19 to 28 grams.
  • The chaffinch is characterized by having a slightly larger size than the common chaffinch, also its tail is longer. This bird can be distinguished from the rest due to the tones of its plumage, which is usually orange with certain white tones located on its body and that give it a very distinctive touch.
  • This bird, like the common finch, has two white stripes on each wing, although the tone of its tail is dark and differs from the colors of other specimens close to this species.
  • The males, have a reproductive plumage in the summer season, these have certain very defined tones, the head and the upper part of the back is bluish black, and have black spots in other areas of the body, in the case of the parts of the abdomen have a white color.
  • In the autumn season, this specimen presents certain changes in its tonalities, since the bluish black color disappears in certain areas of its feathers acquiring other colors as part of a process of natural changes.
  • The birds of the king finch in the young stage present different tonalities which are changing when they are adults, as well as the females that have a more subtle color, they present a brown tone in the back and stripes in certain zones of the body. (see article: Aegithalos caudatus).
  • As for the legs and iris of the Chaffinch they are brown, in the case of the beak of the males it is bluish black, in the summer season it is yellow and when the winter arrives it also presents a different tonality since the tip is black.
  • The beak of the females is of different tonalities compared to those presented by the male, since the color that this one has is brown with a reddish tone, it is usually lighter in certain areas and of yellow color around.

Distribution

This specimen nests in northern Finland and is found in smaller numbers in central Finland, although it can sometimes be found in the south. It tends to breed in mixed and usually coniferous forests with few trees.

The breeding population of this bird is Finnish and is generally estimated at 1 to 2.5 million pairs of these birds, the Chaffinch is considered to be one of the birds that breeds significantly in its native range.

Migration

This bird has a good capacity to travel long distances, for this reason it moves to different places especially during migration periods, which it does mainly during the day.

The Chaffinch usually flies south in the months of September and November, and then returns between the months of March and May. It spends the winter season in western and central Europe, is also found around the Mediterranean, and is sometimes present in small numbers in places such as Finland. (see article: Diamond-backed Woodpecker).

Sound

The Chaffinch emits different sounds on certain specific occasions, during flight, it can express itself with loud tones, making a song characteristic of its species, this bird when singing makes noises similar to the greenfinch bird, although they are distinguished by being louder and more constant.

Physical appearance of the male and female

The Chaffinch is characterized by white spots on its wings, this bird according to its stage of development can obtain other shades in its plumage, which make it stand out from the rest.

The male Chaffinch usually has certain physical features that give him a very distinctive touch and allow him to show his originality, these features are the following:

 

  • The male Chaffinch has a bluish-gray color located in the upper part of the head
  • In the case of the back it is reddish brown
  • The lower part of its body is brownish with a pinkish hue
  • The beak can present certain tones, depending on the season

 

  • The male presents two different plumages according to the season
  • In the summer season its head and other areas of its body are black, with the exception of other areas that are white
  • the throat, chest and other areas of the body are brownish with an orange tint
  • The abdomen is white, with the flanks of a black tone
  • The wings of this bird are black with white double wing stripe
  • The tail is black, with white shades in certain areas
  • After the autumn moult the black color turns brownish with some darker specks, as well as the color of its beak
  • The beak is powerful, and has a black color in the summer season and in the winter season is yellow

In the case of the female of the species of Chaffinch, it has different tonalities and a very particular aspect, where the following details stand out:

  • The female of this species is characterized by a yellowish-brown color, in the area of the back and usually has a brownish gray tone throughout the belly area
  • The beak of the females shows different tonalities than those of the males
  • Its beak is easily adapted to its seed consumption, due to its capacity and natural instinct
  • The female has a brownish dorsum
  • The juveniles of these species, have a similar resemblance to the females

Details of their song

In general, the Chaffinch is a very active bird that can easily move to different environments, especially during the migration season when it usually travels long distances in the company of flocks of birds of this species.

These specimens begin to sing in the seasons of February, although not all finches are characterized by making the same sounds of songs, as each individually identified their own striking sound of regional dialects, this happens especially with birds arriving from Europe.

The song of the Chaffinch is usually easy to recognize, as it always ends with an emphatic flourish, typical of its species.

Where does a Chaffinch live?

Due to its ample capacity to travel to different places, this bird can be located in specific areas when it is out of the breeding season, among which are the following:

  • Open fields
  • Meadows
  • Streets of villages
  • Spaces of cities
  • Wooded areas

Life expectancy

The life expectancy of the Chaffinch usually ranges from 9 to 12 years, in the case that it lives in captivity, although some experts indicate that over time there have been finches that have reached 15 years of life. (see article: Carduelis Flammea).

Breeding in Captivity

In captivity, the king finch can reach a life expectancy of 12 years, since in these spaces they are provided with special care, with the main objective of guaranteeing their welfare and that they have a longer life expectancy. (see article: Carduelis Magellanica).

In the following video we can see how is the environment, and what are the care that the Chaffinch gets in spaces indicated for them to be in captivity:

These are spaces adapted to guarantee the good development of these birds, since they are designed so that these specimens can relate in an ideal way and be free of predators.

Behavior

These birds are characterized by being nomadic in the winter season, but they stand out for retaining part of their nomadism during the breeding season. Males clustered on their breeding grounds have been recaptured about 600 km from the banding site the next breeding season.

Small groups are established during the breeding season, and nests are even found close to each other in subalpine birch forests. There is evidence of male aggression at breeding sites and pairs defend nesting territory.

Foraging behavior varies from collecting insects in trees and shrubs to pulling seeds from the ground.

Communication and Perception

The Chaffinch is characterized by emitting different sounds with which it makes itself present in its environment, since its noises are the most frequent way of communicating and thus manages to establish breeding territories in this way attracts other birds.

Males use a song to attract potential mates, thus standing out from the rest when they want to obtain their mate. The sounds they make are seasonal, as well as the different call notes they use in flight.

Predation

The Chaffinch in its natural environment can be threatened by different types of predators among which are aerial predators such as small hawks and falcons in general as well as other species close to this specimen.

Ecosystem

In general, these birds have a very unique ability to adapt to different environments, in the case of winter roosts can reach large sizes, for the amount of population of these birds, which is significant depending on the season, reaching several million birds.

These birds search for different types of food, and move in the migration season in large groups, which travel long distances to reach their main objective where they settle.

Because these specimens gather in groups where the numbers are large, they can consume a large amount of seeds in the feeding sites they frequent.

The females of this species, which are characterized as breeders, may also consume a variety of natural products, including insects, larvae, moths and many other species.

During the migration stage, they fall victim to the different species of predatory birds in their natural environment. Predators can also be the common cuckoos, which are parasites of the finches’ nests, although in some occasions these by natural instinct, can perceive them, in the same way the young suffer threats together with the adult birds.

State of conservation

King finches are birds that have a wide breeding range, with experts estimating that there are between 13,000,000 and 22,000,000 breeding pairs in places like Europe alone and the breeding range extends as far as the Aleutian Islands.

Many of these birds are not considered threatened due to their high reproductive capacity and population size, as well as their large geographic range, which extends to many areas.

Differences between the Chaffinch and the Common Chaffinch

As for these two specimens there are certain differences that are significant between the Chaffinch and the Common Chaffinch or also called (Common Chaffinch), these distinctions can be presented by observing their physical characteristics and the different behaviors that both birds have in their natural environment.

In the House Finch they can be distinguished through the following characteristics:

  • The House Finch is a small bird, about 15 cm in length, it is characterized by reaching certain distances in its partial migrations which it makes to North Africa and the Canary Islands
  • The beak is conical and sharp
  • The males of this species have in the summer the forehead areas and other areas of slate blue color,
  • The cheeks and the chest are of a brownish and pinkish tone
  • The back is reddish-brown
  • The wings and tail are of a very dark brown, almost black basic color, and an extensive white wing patch and fringe
  • In the winter season the cap is a bluish tone
  • The head of the males turns a grayish-brown color, as for the females of this species are observed less frequently,
  • The females are of earthy brown shades
  • During the breeding season the pairs defend a small territory among the foliage of parks, gardens and mixed evergreen deciduous forests Their melodious and short song has many local variations that distinguish the local ecotypes
  • Its wild habitat extends in the mixed forest from England to western China and from North Africa to Tomsk, Siberia

 

 

As far as the differences between the Chaffinch and the Common Chaffinch are concerned, they are the following:

  • More defined tones, and colors that contrast in a uniform way in certain zones of its body
  • The males in the spring season begin to obtain their nuptial livery, in which they present an orange tone, and in certain zones of the body they have a black lustrous color
  • Makes sounds infrequently depending on the place where it is, because they communicate in a common way according to the season
  • It breeds in the northern forests of the world, it can adapt to different environments
  • This bird is characterized by perching in the branches, and moves from one place to another with great ease
  • They present a white tone in diverse zones of the body, which include the chest, as for the superior parts they are of black brilliant color in the summer times.
  • In the winter season it has a brownish tone; and the female of this species, presents certain upper parts of dark brown color