Twite (Carduelis flavirostris)


Passeriformes Fringillidae Twite (Carduelis flavirostris)

[order] Passeriformes | [family] Fringillidae | [latin] Carduelis flavirostris | [UK] Twite | [FR] Linotte à bec jaune | [DE] Berghänfling | [ES] Pardillo de Pico Amarillo | [IT] Fanello | [NL] Frater

Physical charateristics

The twite Carduelis flavirostris is a small brown passerine bird in the finch family
(Fringillidae) measuring around 14cm. Its heavily streaked plumage is much lighter on its
underside, and darker above. Faint light coloured wing bars are visible, as is a pink rump
that develops in males during the breeding season. Although similar to the linnet
Carduelis cannabina, twite appear rounder with a longer tail. Like the linnet, it feeds
entirely on seeds all year round and has a short stumpy beak.

wingspan min.: 22 cm wingspan max.: 24 cm
size min.: 13 cm size max.: 14 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 13 days
fledging min.: 11 days fledging max.: 12 days
broods: 3   eggs min.: 6  
      eggs max.:  


Carduelis flavirostris has a disjunct breeding distribution in Europe, occupying the north-west, the Caucasus and adjacent parts of Russia and Turkey, with Europe accounting for less than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is large (>170,000 pairs) representing just under half of the world population, and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom during 1990-2000, key populations in Norway and Turkey were stable, and the species remained stable overall.

Listen to the sound of Twite

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto


In the breeding season, twite usually occur in treeless habitats particularly in the uplands,
marginal uplands, sea coasts and cliffs. Upland habitats with heather, bracken and gorse
are all popular breeding locations. M oorland edge habitat is often particularly attractive
to them especially when in close proximity to farmland.

Foraging habits

Small seeds; perhaps a few invertebrates in breeding season. Forages on ground or on low herbs, sometimes in trees; in breeding season, in open areas of pasture and cultivation, by roadsides, at tideline, and by fresh water, feeding mainly on seeds of Compositae, Polygonaceae, and Caryophyllaceae; in winter, in fields, waste ground, allotments, by rivers, etc., and very commonly on coastal salt-marshes, mostly on Chenopodiaceae and Compositae. Feeds in smallish groups in breeding season, but at other times in large mixed flocks of several thousand with other seed-eaters, notably Linnet.

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Breeding habits

Breeding in Britain: rather late breeder; in northern Scotland, eggs laid mid-May to mid-August, with peak around mid-June; in northern England, eggs laid from end of April, mostly late May and June. Norway: eggs laid from beginning of April to August; peak in central Norway mid-May to mid-June. Caucasus: eggs laid from about mid-May. 1-2 broods.
Nest is on or very close to ground in heather, bilberry, bracken, grass tussocks, cotton-grass, rush, etc.; often under rock or in crevice and sometimes in dry-stone wall; also on cliff ledge with or without vegetation, and on young conifer in plantation. Nest: compact, well-built structure with thick, woven walls and deep cup; foundation of small twigs of heather, etc., roots, stalks, fronds of bracken, grass, moss, etc., lined thickly with felted mass of wool, hair, and sometimes feathers. Clutch: 4-6 (3-7) with an incubation period of 12-13 days and a fledging period of
11-12 days (10-15).


This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 340,000-1,500,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. (source

Twite status Least Concern


Migratory. Scandinavian populations winter in Western Europe. Migrate to lower elevations in winter.

Distribution map breeding season

Twite range map summer


Title Migration patterns of two populations of Twite Carduelis flavirostris in Britain
Author(s): André F. Raine, David J. Sowter, Andrew F. Brown and William J. Sutherland
Abstract: Following a recent large decline in range and numb..[more]..
Source: Ringing & Migration (2006) 23, 45-52

download full text (pdf)

Title Natal philopatry and local movement patterns of Twite Carduelis flavirostris
Author(s): André F. Raine, David J. Sowter, Andrew F. Brown and William J. Sutherland
Abstract: The Twite Carduelis flavirostris is classified as ..[more]..
Source: Ringing & Migration (2006) 23, 89-94

download full text (pdf)

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