The handsome finch is a widespread forest dweller. Since ancient times, its bright feathers have served as a talisman for the family, they brought happiness and comfort to the house. The finch is not only good-looking, but also sings excellently, turning on his sonorous and melodic trills, which are in no way inferior to those of a nightingale. It will be interesting to study the way of his life, character, habits and many other features.
The origin of the species and description
The chaffinch is a songbird from the finches family and the passerine order. The name of this feathered primordially Russian, which comes from the verb “chill”, i.e. get cold. It is not difficult to guess that this is a migratory bird that arrives with the advent of heat and rushes south with the approach of the first frost. People noticed that the finch sits in cold weather, ruffled, as if chilled, which is why it was nicknamed that. This bird also has other nicknames, they call it a chaffinch, a bullfinch, a brisk, a severukha, a cast-iron. The female of this bird species is called a chaffinch or a chaffinch.
The dimensions of the chaffinch are similar to the sparrows, but its plumage is much more elegant and brighter. The outfit of males becomes especially attractive during the mating season, and the female prefers more restrained tones. There are a large number of varieties of finches, they differ not only in the territory of their permanent residence, but also in color, dimensions, beak shape and other features. In some areas, finches are the leaders in terms of numbers among the same small birds.
Interesting fact: Surprisingly, there are approximately 450 varieties of finches on the territory of our planet.
In the spaces of our country and the countries of the former USSR, in addition to the European chaffinch, there are three more varieties:
- The Caucasian chaffinch lives in the Crimean Peninsula and the Caucasus in summer, and in winter it moves to the north of Iran and the southern part Transcaucasia, takes a fancy to both forest and mountain ranges (up to 2.5 km high). Its coloring is similar to the European finch, the length of the body is about 13 cm. This feathered bird is distinguished by not very melodic vocals, similar to the cry of a titmouse;
- The Kopetdag chaffinch has a pale color with large white spots on the wings and tail, lives in Turkmenistan in the Kopetdag highland region;
- The Hyrcanian chaffinch has smaller dimensions and a darker color than its European relative. The bird’s head is dark ash, the back is chocolate, and the belly is slightly reddish.
Although finches are mainly migratory, some of them remain over the winter in the inhabited area, this depends on the climate of a particular area. In the winter cold, finches lead a flock of life, choosing to live in open areas (fields, plains). Often in a flock of these birds you can also see sparrows. There is a popular belief that the chirping trill of a chaffinch warns of impending frosts. It is worth understanding in more detail the external features of this interesting songbird using the example of the European finch, which is considered the most numerous.
Appearance and features
The most widespread type of chaffinch is the European one, which we will begin to describe. As already noted, the finch is a medium-sized bird, commensurate with a sparrow. His body reaches a length of up to 15 cm, and weight – from 15 to 40 grams. The wingspan of the bird is about 28 cm. The tail of the finch is quite long and notched, its length is about 7 cm. The beak is also elongated and sharp. The bird is distinguished by its soft touch and thick plumage, which has a very elegant, beautiful color, you should definitely focus on it.
The color of the chaffinch is its calling card. It is handsome males who have this feature. The cap and scarf on the neck of the male have a bluish-gray tint, and a rich black spot is visible above the beak. The back of the chaffinch is chestnut-brown, and a yellowish-green tone is noticeable in the lumbar region, long and gray feathers adorn the tail. The wings of the chaffinch have a white border, and white oblong spots on them are distributed diagonally. The belly and cheeks of the bird are beige or reddish-brown.
The male acquires such an attractive appearance closer to two years of his life. Females look much simpler and not so catchy, their coloring is dominated by gray, slightly greenish and brown tones, chicks and young animals have the same color scheme as females, only chicks have a white spot on the back of the head.
An interesting fact: During the mating season, the male’s beak changes color, becoming bluish and almost blue at the tip, and in winter it is painted pinkish-brown. The female always has the same beak color (horny).
Where does the chaffinch live?
The chaffinch is a widespread bird , so the habitat is vast.
The finch has chosen:
- west of Asia;
- north-west of the African mainland;
- Finland (separate zones of the country);
- Sweden and Norway (certain parts of the States);
- Azores, Canaries and British Islands;
- Morocco and Madeira;
- Tunisia and Algeria;
- Asia Minor;
- northern Iran;
- part of the countries of the former USSR;
In general, the finch is classified as a migratory bird, but depending on the territory, it may remain for the winter in certain areas. In summer they live in the Caucasus, in Siberia, in the European part of our country, overwinter in Kazakhstan, Central Europe, northern Africa, Asia Minor, Crimea. For wintering, the chaffinch can also move to neighboring, more southern regions. Thus, we can say that finches are not only migratory, but also nomadic and sedentary.
Birds prefer places where there are a lot of trees, so they can be found in gardens, parks, forests, small groves. Finches love both mixed forests and spruce forests, but not very dense, preferring light forests. You will not see their nests in the dense impassable thicket, they settle closer to the edges, because they find most of their food on the ground. Most often, finches return to their familiar places where they lived last year.
Interesting fact: Very often, finches settle near human settlements, often choosing village and city parks.</em >
What does a finch eat?
The finch menu consists of all kinds of insects and plants. Still, the former predominate in the bird’s diet. Ornithologists who studied the contents of the finch’s stomach found that it eats the seeds of various weeds and does not refuse berries and fruits. In summer, the menu mainly consists of animal food. So, the plant diet of a finch includes: seeds of various weeds (nettles, quinoa), seeds of coniferous trees, various fruits and berries, buds of deciduous trees, flowers, foliage, cones.
The animal food of finches consists of: a variety of caterpillars, ants, flies, bugs, bugs, larvae. Finches provide overwhelming assistance in the fight against insect pests such as weevils. The bird is very useful, both for forest and agricultural land, because. eats many pests of cultivated and wild plants.
The beak of this small bird is quite strong and strong, and the palate has irregularities, the muscles of the face of the chaffinch are powerful, so it can cope even with very hard food. A strong beetle shell, thick egg shells or elastic plant seeds are not an obstacle for a finch. The chaffinch searches for most of its food on the ground, moving along its surface with fast and frequent jumps.
Interesting fact: Only finches from their entire family of finches feed their chicks with insects alone, not including other plant foods in their diet.
Character and lifestyle
Finches live in flocks, only during the mating season uniting in pairs. Up to 100 individuals gather when they plan to fly to warmer climes. These little birds fly very quickly and swiftly, at a speed of about 55 kilometers per hour. To recuperate and feed, they take a break for several days on the way. The return home takes place from February to April (it depends on the climate of the territory). First, males arrive, marking their return with loud melodic roulades, and females appear about a week later.
Interesting fact: The finch is active during the daytime, it can often be seen on the branches of trees, along which it moves with lateral jumps. On the ground, the bird makes small leaps, looking for food.
The chaffinch’s ability to sing is worth mentioning separately, because. he is a great virtuoso in this difficult matter. Pleasant and flooded roulades of finches are especially characteristic of the spring period. The male finch literally plunges into his song, throwing his head back and not noticing anything around him. The trills of the chaffinch are always enthusiastic, booming and very beautiful, they end with a kind of flourish (a loud jerky sound), and before the main trill you can hear very high, whistling and thin notes.
The entire chaffinch song can be divided into stages:
All this singing action takes no more than three seconds and is interspersed with pauses up to 10 seconds long. Because of such beautiful tunes, many try to keep a finch in captivity, but this is extremely difficult to do, because it is a free bird, she does not want to sing in a cage, she is constantly nervous and wants to break free, it is also very difficult to choose a diet for a finch. Of course, in captivity, a bird can live for about a dozen years, and in natural conditions only two or three years, but it is better not to deprive a chaffinch of freedom, because you can listen to his exciting performance in the forest.
Social structure and reproduction
We have already found out that the finch is a flocking bird, living in pairs during the mating and nesting period. Males from warm countries arrive a week earlier than females. The mating season is marked by their loud exclamations and flooded singing. During the mating period, fights, commotion, noise and flight of males from place to place often occur, the process itself takes place either on thick tree branches or on the surface of the earth.
The female is in charge of building the nest, and the male helps her in delivering the materials needed for this. Its construction begins a month after arrival. Nests of finches are quite high and deep, their walls are very strong. The nest is built of moss, lichens, thin twigs, fluff, wool, birch bark, cobwebs. The latter gives the structure solidity and strength. Nests are located high (about four meters), placed on the forks of thick branches.
Interesting fact: Restless workaholic females, when building a nest, go down for building materials about one and a half thousand times, each time, again climbing up to the construction site.
When the nest is ready, it’s time to lay the eggs, which are usually four to seven, they are bluish-green or reddish-green in color, covered with blurry spots of purple on top. Incubation of eggs is the duty of the expectant mother, it lasts about two weeks. The future father at this time brings food to his soulmate. After a two-week period, small chicks are born, which are completely helpless and covered with light fluff in the back and head, and their skin has a reddish tint.
Caring father and mother feed their babies together, putting various small insects and their larvae into their beaks. It is impossible to approach the nest at this time, because. this may end tragically, the finches may leave him completely, then the kids will die. Closer to mid-June, the chicks begin to make their first flights, and the parents feed their children for about two more weeks. The finches manage to make the second clutch towards the end of summer, there are fewer eggs in it than in the first, and it is already done in a different, new nest.
Natural enemies of the chaffinch
The finch is a small bird, so it has plenty of enemies. Finches also suffer from larger birds: magpies, crows, woodpeckers, jays. They often destroy both small chicks and laying eggs of finches. At night, a finch that lives in a forest area can become a snack for an owl predator, which is not averse to feasting on them. She often performs a scare technique by hooting terribly, thereby driving small birds out of their nightly shelters.
The enemies of the chaffinch are not only birds, but also squirrels, ermines, martens, which are perfectly oriented in the crown of trees. Finches living in park areas of settlements can become prey for ordinary cats, whose hunting instinct is in their blood. The male becomes especially vulnerable when he performs his lyrical ballads, at this moment he loses his caution and vigilance, does not see anything around, so he can easily be caught.
Chicks making their first flights may also die. People invading the nests of finches bring them enormous damage, because in such cases the parents leave their chicks, leaving them to perish. Finches also die from pesticides with which a person processes fields and forest belts. The unfavorable ecological situation also reduces the life span of these amazingly beautiful birds.
Destruction of forest areas also does not bode well for finches. Despite its briskness, dexterity and endurance, nevertheless, many different dangers await this small and, at times, defenseless bird.
Population and species status
The chaffinch is widely distributed, The area of its settlement is extensive, and the population is very numerous. Still, there are many human factors that negatively affect the number of this small bird.
These include the following:
- massive deforestation;
- degradation of places of permanent settlement of birds;
- interference in the life of birds;
- the ruin of their nesting sites;
- the scarcity of food supply;
- the expansion of agricultural land;
- the rapid economic activity of people .
There are fewer and fewer places left for finches where they can safely nest, so in many areas their breeding stops, and the number of birds decreases. The nests of these birds are very interesting and noticeable, so they are often ruined due to simple curiosity. Despite all these negative trends, there is evidence that about one hundred million pairs of finches live in Europe alone. In addition, a fairly large number of these birds are also noted in the territories of Asia. Apparently, this is influenced by the endurance of this small bird.
Interesting fact: So, today we can say with confidence that, fortunately, nothing threatens the population of finches, this species of birds is not under special protection and is quite numerous. It remains to be hoped that this situation will continue.
In conclusion, I would like to add that the beauty of the finch, its amazing and soul-stirring song inspire, enchant and give a charge of vivacity. For all its irresistible external qualities, the finch also brings great benefits, destroying all kinds of pests. Looking at the chaffinch, it’s hard to believe that such a small bird contains so much energy, dexterity, love of freedom, picturesqueness, beauty and incredible singing talent.