Citril Finch (Serinus citrinella)

Citril Finch

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Fringillidae | [latin] Serinus citrinella | [UK] Citril Finch | [FR] Venturon montagnard | [DE] Zitronengirlitz | [ES] Verderon serrano | [NL] Citroenkanarie


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Slightly larger and less compact than Serin, with sharply tapered bill and proportionately longer wings; 20% smaller than Greenfinch. Small, elegant finch, form and behaviour recalling small Carduelis as much as any Serinus; plumage less contrasted and less streaked than any other west Palearctic Serinus. Mainland race basically grey-green, yellower on foreface, lower body, and rump; wings blackish with 2 greenish-yellow wing-bars.

Listen to the sound of Citril Finch

[audio: Finch.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 22 cm wingspan max.: 25 cm
size min.: 12 cm size max.: 13 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 16 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 4  


Eurasia : South, Central Europe


Largely restricted to montane south-west Palearctic, in cool alpine climates, upwards from 700 m in Schwarzwald (Germany) and from 1000 m in Switzerland up to treeline at c. 1300-1500 m, and after breeding to 3300 m or more. Heavy winter snowfalls usually render mainland breeding habitats untenable then, and emigrants to southern France and elsewhere near the Mediterranean often feed in birches and alders.
In breeding areas, prefers open light marginal woodland composed at least partially of spruce, often bordering on alpine meadows or clumps of spruce scattered on open terrain, and frequently having alpine huts as further attraction. While far from embracing man-made environments to extent of (e.g.) Serin, not reluctant to take advantage of their overlap with its natural habitat. Firmly tied to trees, but appears never to accept dense closed stands of forest.


Breeding starts in Switzerland second half of April or early May, second clutches June and first half of July; in exceptional years, eggs laid late February. In Northern Italy at altitudes of 2500-3000 metres, eggs laid late April to mid-June. North-east Spain: at 500-1600 m, eggs laid early April to June. Commonly 2 broods.

The nest on mainland, almost always in conifer, usually close to trunk in upper part of tree and protected by dense twigs above, though sometimes out on branch. Nest-sites on Corsica very different; majority in tree-heath c. 1 m (c. 0.3-2) above ground, or in juniper. The nest is built on a foundation of dry stalks, grass, roots, lichen, and spiders? webs, smoothly lined with hair, wool, feathers, rootlets, paper, etc.; on Corsica, flimsy and shallow, mostly of fine grass lined with hair, feathers, moss, or plant down.
Clutch: (3-)4-5 in nominate citrinella; 3-4(-5) on Corsica. Both subspecies have equal incubation period of 13-14 days and fledging period of 16-17 (15-18) days.

Feeding habits

Small to medium-sized seeds (possibly more grass seeds than most other Fringillidae), and sometimes green material from wide variety of plants; and some insects. Seeds of spruce and pine important at times. Will hang from seed-head to extract seeds, though rarely completely upside-down, and in general appears less agile than (e.g.) Redpoll or Siskin, also when removing seeds from conifer cones in trees or feeding on catkins. Otherwise forages mainly on ground.


This species has a very 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). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very 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.
Serinus citrinella is endemic to Europe, with its fragmented distribution confined to
central and south-west regions of the continent. Its population is large (>250,000
pairs), and increased between 1970-1990. Although trends were not available for the
populations in France or the Spanish stronghold during 1990-2000, there was no
evidence to suggest that the species’s status deteriorated.
Citril Finch status Least Concern


Short-distance and vertical migrant, wintering at middle altitudes, chiefly above 1000 m, though heavy snowfall causes birds to move lower temporarily; sedentary in some southern areas.
Most birds leave Alps in winter; in Switzerland, winters regularly (in varying numbers) only in Valais canton in south-west, less regularly on other south-facing slopes of Jura and Alps; numbers difficult to estimate as birds tend to move from place to place; more remain in milder winters, but probably never more than a quarter or third of population. Regularly remains in breeding areas of French/Italian maritime Alps; many French and Swiss birds winter in limited area in mountains of southern France Cevennes, south-east Massif Central, and western edge of Alps from Vercors to Monts de Vaucluse. In Corsica and Sardinia, more widespread winter than summer, many birds moving to lower levels and to coasts.

Distribution map

Citril Finch distribution range map

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