Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)


[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Fringillidae | [latin] Fringilla coelebs | [UK] Chaffinch | [FR] Pinson des arbres | [DE] Buchfink | [ES] Pinzon Vulgar | [NL] Vink


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

Noticeably long, medium-sized, and rather elegant passerine, epitomising its family but actually sharing its general character with only two congeners.
At all ages and in both sexes, plumage pattern dominated by contrasting white panels on leading wing-coverts, buff-white wing-bar on secondaries and inner primaries, and striking white outer tail-feathers which show well on perched bird and twinkle on flying one.
Eurasian male shows more colors than any other west Palearctic finch, with blue-grey crown, pale red to pink face and body, and mainly black ground to white wing and tail markings.
Female and guvenile much more sober, with dusky olive-brown head and upperparts and dusky white underparts showing little pattern. Wings and tail duller than male’s but show similarly striking marks.
Song and several calls distinctive. Sexes dissimilar, some seasonal variation.

Listen to the sound of Chaffinch


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 25 cm wingspan max.: 27 cm
size min.: 13 cm size max.: 14 cm
incubation min.: 10 days incubation max.: 16 days
fledging min.: 11 days fledging max.: 16 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


Eurasia : Central, West, also North Africa and Canary Islands


Breeds in west Palearctic in temperate wooded areas, from Mediterranean and marginally steppe zones up to boreal, and in places to edge of tundra, usually occurs within shifting climatic boundary, beyond which Brambling replaces it to the north.
Basically arboreal, and in breeding season occupies deciduous, mixed, and coniferous woods and forests, at densities varying greatly according to their species composition.


Breeding starts late April to mid June in Britain, May-June in Sweden, April to mid July in Germany.
Nest site is a in fork of tree or bush, on branch or on several thin twigs.
Nest is compact and neat, with firm walls and deep cup, clad with lichen and moss thus looking green or greyish. Pliable and yielding to touch, outer layer of lichen, moss, bark, and fibres bound with spider silk, then grass and stalks lined with rootlets, hair, and feathers.
3-6 eggs,incubation, 12-16 days, by female only.

Feeding habits

Mainly seeds and other plant material, in breeding season mainly invertebrates. Seeds taken generally on ground, notably freshly-turned soil, not direct from plant, except in shrubs and trees, feeds with rapid pecking action unsuited to removing seeds from herbs or grasses, flower or seed-head simply being knocked away.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Chaffinch status Least Concern


Sedentary to migratory, wintering chiefly within breeding range in Europe, but further south in Asia. In Europe, migrates south-west on fairly narrow front, with western populations wintering furthest west, and more eastern populations progressively further east. Winter visitors greatly augment populations of western and southern Europe (including Britain), and regularly reach North Africa. Migrates by day in flocks, most actively in morning hours, sometimes in company with Brambling. In many areas the most numerous visible autumn migrant.
British birds very sedentary; 90% move no further than 5 km from natal site, and the rest (almost entirely 1st-year birds) less than 50 km. Immigrants winter mainly in southern and central Britain (south of 54 degrees N) and Ireland, and are chiefly of Scandinavian origin. French birds mostly sedentary; a few juveniles move west or south-west in autumn, and very occasionally cross Pyrenees to Spain. Birds from Low Countries and Scandinavia east to Russia and Czechoslovakia winter in France. In countries further east and north, proportion of migrants increases. In Sweden, overwinters in small numbers in south, and occasionally north to extreme north. In Norway, overwinters especially on coast. In southern Finland, small flocks commonly seen near human habitations in early winter. Winters only in very small numbers in Leningrad region; irregular in Moscow region.
Autumn migration August-December, chiefly September-November. In south of Mediterranean region, passage continues to early December, and even to January. Spring migration begins early and is prolonged, February-May, chiefly March to mid-April in central Europe. In Strait of Gibraltar, passage earlier than other finches, from start of February, peaking 1st half of March and continuing to early April. Further north, main passage in March and April, with arrival in northern breeding areas in 2nd half of April.
females more migratory than males, at least in some areas, tending to move further, and differential wintering occurs. Most birds remaining to winter in Sweden are males (hence ?coelebs? = bachelor), and males predominate in winter in Low Countries and Britain, but females predominate in Ireland. In central Europe in winter, proportion of males to females c. 3:1 from Grenoble (south-east France) north-east to Poland, but further south in France proportion of females increases, and they predominate in Rh

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