The Common Chaffinch – also Known as Der Buchfink.
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Male; female; immature/juvenileClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.
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.
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:
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?
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 - birdsong
Chaffinch singing from a branch
Chaffinch making alarm call
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”
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 nibblesClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.
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.
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).
- 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.
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