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Order Song birds/Passeriformes, Family Finches/Fringillidae

Chaffinch/Fringilla coelebs - Male

L 14-16 cm. Breeds commonly in all types of woodland and in parks and gardens, and is Britain’s second commonest bird after Wren (estimated c. 5.4 million pairs). Prefers rather more open woods to dense ones, and often forages on ground. Resident British & Irish population augmented by large autumn/winter influx from N and NE Europe. Builds neat nest in tree fork, camouflaged on outside with lichens and moss.
IDENTIFICATION: Size of House Sparrow, but slimmer and has longer tail. Usually easily recognized by double white wing-bar, white tail-sides and grey-green rump. - male (once juv. plumage moulted Jul-Sep): Head-side and breast rusty-red; crown and nape blue-grey (tinged brown in fresh autumn plumage); mantle reddish-brown. - Female/juvenile: Grey-green above with faint brown tinge, greyish-white below; narrower wing-bars than male. - Flight strong and undulating. On migration forms fairly loose flocks (male bit looser than Brambling, but mixed flocks common). Often alights with a few fluttering sweeping turns, showing white patterns.
VOICE: Powerful voice and frequent singing make this one of the birds most heard in woodland and parks. Several calls characteristic once learned. Perched bird gives a spirited, sharp ‘fink!’ (only Great Tit’s ‘ping’ is confusable), while in flight it has a more unobtrusive ‘yupp’ (softer than Brambling’s ‘yeck’, weaker than Greenfinch’s ‘jüpp!’), which is repeated frequently by migrating flocks overhead. Also heard often in N Europe is a forceful, upcurled whistle, ‘hüitt’, often persistently repeated, which in S Scandinavia, England and Continental Europe is commonly replaced by a rolling, straight, discordant whistle, ‘rrhü’ (and many local variants; in S Europe also a Thrush Nightingale-like uninflected ‘hiit’); function varies between advertising, warning and territory maintenance, and the call is often termed the ‘rain-song’. When highly agitated, a sharp, fine piping note, ‘ziih’. Fledged young beg with a loud ‘chripp’. Song highly characteristic, rather constant in delivery and tirelessly repeated, a bright, loud, almost rattling verse introduced by 3-4 rapidly repeated sharp notes which turn into a similar series of lower notes, the whole terminating in a lively flourish, ‘zitt-zitt-zittzitt- sett-sett-sett-chatt-chiteriidia’; some Chaffinches add an almost out-ofplace, Great Spotted Woodpecker-like ‘kick’ at the very end.

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