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The Common Chaffinch – also Known as Der Buchfink.

Updated on June 12, 2015

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For the meanings of bird parts which you do not understand in this Hub, please see my bird glossary.

If what you want is not in there, please let me know so that I can add it into the glossary.


Male; female; immature/juvenile

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Male: Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs).  Deutsch: Buchfink English: Chaffinch A female Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs). English: Immature plumage of common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs).
Male: Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs).  Deutsch: Buchfink English: Chaffinch
Male: Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs). Deutsch: Buchfink English: Chaffinch | Source
A female Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs).
A female Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs). | Source
English: Immature plumage of common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs).
English: Immature plumage of common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs). | Source

Male/Female/etc.:

The Common Chaffinch, a Eurasian species, is very widespread throughout European countries and it is also common. It is a member of the finch family being a small passerine bird. The chaffinch is a medium finch with a buff body.

Male –

The male has a blue-grey cap with rust-red underparts which show off its other bright colors. Some of them are that it has a belly and vent which are white. The wings are dark with white patches on its shoulders and a single wingbar on each wing which is also white.


Plus its voice is strong and the way which it attracts its mate is by sitting on exposed perches to sing.

Female –

About the only bright colors which the female has are the white wingbars and the white on the tail. The rest is a dull brown and a light buff breast and underparts.

Immature and juvenile –

The immature and the juvenile seem to have a little more color than the female, perhaps because they have a different tint on their heads and backs.

Chaffinch range map:

Distribution map of the Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), compiled from Snow & Perrins Birds of the Western Palearctic, Harrison An Atlas of the Birds of the Western Palaearctic, and Clement et al. Finches & Sparrows.
Distribution map of the Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), compiled from Snow & Perrins Birds of the Western Palearctic, Harrison An Atlas of the Birds of the Western Palaearctic, and Clement et al. Finches & Sparrows. | Source

Range and habitat:

The chaffinch, while breeding goes through plenty of Europe, in and out of Asia, following the Angara River to the southern end of Lake Baikal into and through western Siberia plus the northwest of Africa.

Besides the previous areas there are several others. The Azores, the Canary Islands where the it stays about 70 degrees all winter, the Madeira Islands in the Atlantic Ocean.

Being imported from Britain, there were various regions across the seas where the chaffinch was introduced to.

During its migration season, it scatters widely in the Maritimes, Massachusetts and Maine - accidentally in those areas. Being a migrant who is only partial, some of these birds breed in the warmer areas - these birds are sedentary. Others breed in northern areas which, of course, are colder regions of their range – they travel further south for the winter.

Almost any area which has scattered trees and shrubs – such as orchards, parks, gardens, farmlands and suburbs – these areas are usually where they may be found.

How many from the UK have seen a Common Chaffinch? The US? Elsewhere?

See results

William Homan Thorpe

He began his life on 4-1-1902 and between then and 4-7-1986 he became Professor of Animal Ethology and a notable zoologist, ethologist and ornithologist. With a few friends, Thorpe devoted to the development and acknowledgement of physiological biology in Great Britain.

He laid the groundwork for spectrography in the 1940s. This was for the specified analysis of bird song. There was only one machine in the UK at that time.

He went from entomology to ethology. As in music, he had a separate passion which came from his childhood plus it was deep-rooted. It was natural history - especially bird watching - this was appropriate for a boy who was religiously minded and moderately antisocial.

Common Chaffinch

This photo comes with a song link (below)
This photo comes with a song link (below) | Source

Chaffinch singing from a branch

Chaffinch making alarm call

Voice:


Song -

The finch family received its English name due to its famous impressive song.

A British zoologist by the name of William Thorpe received great reward after studying the song of the young chaffinch. Thorpe concluded that there is a decisive amount of time after hatching which the young bird must ‘hear’ the adult male’s song, or else there is no way that it will learn the song accordingly. Another fact which he learned was that castration of adult chaffinches eliminates song but when testosterone is injected into those same birds it encourages them to sing – even in November when they ordinarily do not sing.

Below is basically what the song sounds like. Match to the video if you can follow:

“fyeet, fyeet, lya-lya-vee, chee-yew-keak”

Call -

Its call sounds like fink or vink - one of the other reasons why it received its name. Chaffinches display several different types of calls. One example is a loud & clear pink when it is perched.

























Chaffinch taking advantage of nibbles

Click thumbnail to view full-size
 "Can I have some nuts too, please?" This chaffinch waited ages for his go at the peanuts. The sloping fence down the steps at Ty'n Cornel is a convenient place to queue, and often has several birds waiting in line when the woodpecker hogs the self-sBreakfast at Ty'n Cornel 08:00 GMT on a sunny March morning, and this common but attractive bird, together with several others, was making the most of available freebies.
 "Can I have some nuts too, please?" This chaffinch waited ages for his go at the peanuts. The sloping fence down the steps at Ty'n Cornel is a convenient place to queue, and often has several birds waiting in line when the woodpecker hogs the self-s
"Can I have some nuts too, please?" This chaffinch waited ages for his go at the peanuts. The sloping fence down the steps at Ty'n Cornel is a convenient place to queue, and often has several birds waiting in line when the woodpecker hogs the self-s | Source
Breakfast at Ty'n Cornel 08:00 GMT on a sunny March morning, and this common but attractive bird, together with several others, was making the most of available freebies.
Breakfast at Ty'n Cornel 08:00 GMT on a sunny March morning, and this common but attractive bird, together with several others, was making the most of available freebies. | Source

Food:

They eat in open woodlands, gardens and farms.

Adults primarily eat seeds, specifically of cereals or weeds, while the young ones are largely fed a diet of insects, such as caterpillars. The adults also eat the insects during the breeding season.

In a normal garden, you will see these birds eating seeds on the ground instead of the feeders. They search for split sunflower seed and hearts.


















Domestic birds are apt to feed in small groups in the winter. Usually near hedges and woodlands.

Female chaffinch building nest

Nest and eggs:

The nest is built by the female and it is a deep cup. To build it she collects feathers bound with spiders’ webs, grass and moss. Then it is lined with wool and more feathers. Finally it is decorated with lichen and flakes of bark. It is situated in a tree where a branch splits into two.

The pair generally has between 4 - 5 eggs in one clutch. The eggs take around 13 days to hatch. It usually takes around 14 days for the chicks to fledge. They are still fed by the adults after they have left the nest for several weeks.








Conservation:

In the 1950’s there were two things which had damaged the populations of the chaffinch. They were the use of agricultural chemicals plus some changes in the farming process. Today all of that is in the past and the birds are doing better.

Besides being the most familiar finch, the Common Chaffinch is also a species that is all over the place in Europe.

Western Asia, northwestern Africa, the Azores and Madeira are not the only parts which are covered. It is also present on the Canary Islands of Tenerife and Gran Canarias. Even North America may have a random Common Chaffinch appear, but these may be caged birds which have escaped. Near Cape Town in South Africa, there is a popularized colony of the chaffinches which still exists. The rating of the Common Chaffinch for their conservation is listed under Least Concern.

Carl Linnaeus

He was a physician, botanist and zoologist from Sweden. He laid the groundwork for the latest biological naming scheme of binomial nomenclature. Therefore, he became known as the father of modern botany, and is also treated as one of the fathers of modern environmental science. A large amount of his scripts were in Latin, plus his name was submitted in Latin as Carolus Linnæus (after 1761 Carolus a Linné).

From Wikipedia


Carl von Linné 1707–1778 Alexander Roslin (1718–1793) [Artist for painting of Carl von Linné.
Carl von Linné 1707–1778 Alexander Roslin (1718–1793) [Artist for painting of Carl von Linné. | Source

Interesting facts:

  • Various countries have the chaffinch as a social pet bird. There is an ancient sport in Belgium which pits male chaffinches in opposition to each other for having the most bird calls in one hour. It is called vinkenzetting.
  • Did you know that “bachelor” is the translation for the Latin coelebs? A man by the name of Linnaeus was the person who named this species. This happened in his home country of Sweden. This is where the females migrate for the winter but the males usually remain.
  • The most familiar finch in Western Europe is the Common Chaffinch. Sometimes it is named a Spink, which is due to its call sounding like ‘fink’ or ‘vink’.

A group of finches has many collective nouns, including a “charm”, “company” and “trembling” of finches.








Taxonomy:

If you are into taxonomy, then you may want to read this part -

In 1758, someone by the name of Linnaeus explained the chaffinch in detail in the 10th edition of is Systema Naturae – it was under its normal name. The Latin word which means finch is Fringilla, and coelebs means spouseless or unwed. Linnaeus had said that it was throughout the Swedish winter when only the female birds migrated southward through the country of Belgium to reach their goal – the country of Italy. Let us look at the word ceaffinc; it is Old English and it is where the English name chaffinch comes from. Now let us divide ceaffinc in two - first we get ceaf which is pronounced “chaff”, and finc (fink) is “finch.

Fringillidae (the family of finches) is branched out into two subfamilies: The first one is the Cardeline, it consists of about 28 genera including 141 species plus the Fringillinae, which contains a single genus Fringilla, which has 3 species and they are the Common Chaffinch, (Fringilla coelebs); the Blue Chaffinch, (Fringilla teydea); and the Brambling, (Fringilla montifringilla). You will notice that all of the finches have stout and conical bills. This is due to the fact that they all eat hard shelled seeds. The morphologies of their skulls are very much alike. The count of their primaries is nine, of their tail feathers comes to twelve, and their crop is zero. The female builds the nest, nurtures the eggs and raises the chicks, which is in all species. When Fringilline finches are young they are fed mostly arthropods. Cardueline finches regurgitate seeds while they bring up their young.

© 2014 The Examiner-1

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    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 3 years ago from Northern California, USA

      I know I'll never see a Chaffinch in my area, but it was quite fascinating to read about this bird. The videos are a real treat, especially the one with the female building a nest. I enjoyed that a lot.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      Thanks Marlene, I thought that I would spread my wings (no pun intended). You never know - you may see one of them that was a pet which escaped from its cage. As for the videos, I tried to find what I could to replace the photos which I could not. I am glad that you enjoyed it. Happy birding!

      Kevin

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 3 years ago from Tennesee

      What a lovely bird!

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      Yes it is. You may have to go to a pet store to see one live. I Thank you for dropping by Beth. Happy birding!

      Kevin

    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 3 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Interesting hub...makes me long for the sound of birds....come on spring!!

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      A new face, it is a little late after 12 months but welcome to HubPages. Hello Sheri Faye, there are birds which are around in the winter and others that stay all year. I am glad this interested you. Happy birding!

      Kevin

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Most everyone considers the common birds jet that, common. Since I am not used to the chaffinch, I think it is gorgeous. Thanks, Kevin!

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      I cannot avoid that but 'common' seems to be its name. I do not think that you would be used to it since it is out of this country - unless you have seen an escapee from a pet store. They have been introduced to our states that way.

      I thought that I would try something a little different. I am glad that you liked it Deb! Happy birding and keep warm, spring is coming.

      Kevin

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      So sorry Kevin that it has taken me so long to catch up with your great hubs. This one again a gem; a little Chaffinch visits our table almost daily and again when I see him now I know so much more. Keep them coming Kevin and you are a wonderful writer and teacher of nature. Take care and lots of love from Wales.

      Eddy.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      That is okay Eiddwen I simply figured that you saw this one all of the time since it is from your area. I just saw a photo of that guy (actually it was the female) on G+. I really appreciate your comment, thank you. :-)

      Let the birds fly free!

      Kevin

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i have never seen such pretty birds in my while except on TV. But i am sure my cat would love to meet them

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      They are pretty birds, and I am sure that your cat would lo-o-ve to meet them too! Thank you for stopping by. :-)

      Kevin - I hope that you have a nice weekend.

    • profile image

      Margie 2 years ago

      You saved me a lot of halsse just now.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 11 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I have never seen this type of bird here and know why after reading your hub. It is a pretty little bird. I enjoyed hearing it sing and also enjoyed watching the cozy little nest it builds. Pinning this to my birds board.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 11 months ago

      Thank you Peggy. So far I have only written about the pretty birds but there are many other birds out there too. Small ones and larger ones. Pretty ones and not so pretty ones. I will get to them all in time. Right now I am trying to catch up on everything - such as updating my Hubs here. I could not even find where I had my Blogsite for a while.

      P.S. -- Thank you for Pinning this to your board.

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