BIRD OF THE MONTH: MAY 2006 – CHAFFINCH

Posted by NH Admin on Friday, 28th April 2006, 00:00


Chaffinch    Fringilla coelebs

 

Photo credit: Sannse/GFDL

 

Size

Length = 14-16cm   Wingspan = 25-28cm

Physical description

 

Stocky build. Thick bill.

 

Male: pink breast, belly and cheeks; metallic blue crown and nape; brown upper back; olive green lower back. White shoulder patch and white bar on dark wing: both show clearly when the bird is stationary and flying in its undulating manner.

 

Female: plainer than the male; grey/brown head; greyish breast, belly and cheeks. Same white shoulder patch and wing bar.

 

Voice

 

Call: huet-huet, followed by pink-pink.

 

Song: a fast, bright and descending cascade of notes with a flourish at the end. It is repeated over and over. Sings from a prominent perch; its powerful voice makes the song carry a long way.

 

Diet

 

Seeds: goosefoot, chickweed, charlock.

In good years for beech trees it feeds on beech mast under the trees.

In summer eats insects: mostly caterpillars, also flies and spiders.

 

Lifespan

Up to 5 years.

Habitat

 

Primarily a woodland bird, but has adapted to man-made environments.

Nests in gardens, parks, orchards, shrubs and farmland.

Feeds in open areas e.g. lawns, grassy paths, woodland floors.

 

Geographic range

Whole UK.

Migration

 

Resident and winter visitor. Some birds come from Scandinavia to spend the winter in the UK.

 

Conservation status

Secure

Related species

Brambling

Where can I see this bird in Northwood / Medham?

 

Many places. Chaffinches use many of the bird feeders and bird tables that people put in their gardens, and hop around on the ground foraging for food. They eat insects in trees which are found in many gardens.

 

If they do not come to your garden, try the area of Medham Farm Lane before the private road leads off to the left, or near the bottom of Pallance Lane where there are trees outside the houses.

 

Why is this bird worth seeing?

 

If chaffinches were rare we would rave about their colour combination of pink, blue, green, brown, black and white. But because they are so common (the second most common bird in the UK after the wren with c.7 million pairs) we tend to take them for granted. They add a welcome touch of colour to every garden, which is enhanced if the male is singing.

The song is quite distinctive, and one of the easiest to learn. Chaffinches start singing in February, an early sign that spring is on the way.

 

Binoculars needed?

Useful for getting a closer look.

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