Reel is the most common bird of the passerine order. Outwardly, it is actually very similar to an ordinary sparrow, but unlike it, it is able to change color depending on the season. There are a great many varieties of the finch, and in this article we will talk about the brightest representatives of this family, we will give a lot of interesting facts about the life of the bird and its unique features.
Origin of the species and description
As a separate species, finches were described as early as the mid-18th century by the Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus. Already at that time, birds were separated into a separate family, and 100 years later, the description of all subspecies of this family was completed.
However, as a complete class, finches formed several thousand years ago. These birds have been known since ancient times, and the very first mention of birds dates back to the 5th millennium BC. In the times of Ancient Egypt, the bird was considered a companion of the sun and the attitude towards it was very reverent.
Finches are distinguished by a small body, the length of which does not exceed 15 centimeters. Whole bird 20-25 grams. The breast of the European finch is colored orange, but the back of the bird molts depending on the season. In summer, the plumage of the bird is black, and in winter the feathers acquire a brownish tint.
The bird's beak is small, but powerful enough (considering the size of the finch itself). Paws are dark gray with tenacious and gripping guests. They are ideally adapted to sit on tree branches for long periods of time.
Fun fact: Unlike sparrows, finches sing beautifully and can be confused with canaries and even nightingales. When birds sit on a tree, they make quiet and calm sounds. In turn, in flight, finches are capable of emitting loud, disturbing and rather loud trills.
Appearance and Features
The appearance of the finch depends on the subspecies to which it belongs, as well as on the territory in which it lives. At the moment, there are about a dozen species of these birds.
The main representatives are:
- canary finch — perhaps the most common type of bird. It lives from the foothills of the Himalayan mountains to the beginning of the Sahara desert. Differs in bright and unusual coloring. The chest and back of the canary finch are green, and the wings are light brown. This bird is easily confused with a real canary, which often happens even among scientists. The bird is 10-12 centimeters long, weighs about 15 grams, and it can be argued that this is the smallest representative of the finches family;
- snow reel — also known as the alpine finch. It lives in the Alps at an altitude of up to 2000 meters, on the Balkan Peninsula, in the Carpathians and the mountains of Central Asia. It differs not only in an unusual color, but also in a settled way of life, which is not characteristic of birds of this species. The color of the bird is white-gray and only on the neck it has a small dark spot. The beak of the snow finch is somewhat shorter than that of other members of the family. This is due to the fact that her main diet is hard grains;
- Mozambique Reel — this type of bird lives in African countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. It has a very bright and rich color. The plumage of the bird has bright yellow and green colors, which makes it look like a small parrot. Local residents quite often keep this bird at home and often export it to other countries. In size, this bird is similar to the canary finch and also easily makes contact with humans. By the way, the Mozambican finch feels great in the parks of large African cities and does not disdain to eat from feeders;
- royal reel — habitat of this bird — such eastern countries as Turkey, Iran or Pakistan. However, because of the great love for warmth, the royal finch migrates to India for the winter, as it is difficult to endure even the mild winter of Turkey and Iran. The bird got its name because of an unusual, red spot on its head, which most of all resembles a small crown. The bright red spot looks spectacular on the black-gray plumage and stands out even from a distance;
- Galapagos finch — a unique species living exclusively in the Galapagos Islands. It was studied by Charles Darwin as a species that formed in conditions of natural isolation. In total, there are 7 species of such finches, and they all differ from each other in appearance, behavior, and even nutrition.
For example, the sharp-billed finch lives on the islands, which eats the meat of animals and drinks the blood of other birds. The fact is that there is often a drought on the islands, and the blood of birds and mammals allows these finches to quench their thirst.
Interesting fact: All types of finches are characterized by sexual dimorphism. This means that males and females are seriously different from each other in terms of brightness. Males are much brighter than females, which allows them to quickly find partners in the mating season.
Where do finches live?
Finches belong to the species of birds that perfectly adapts to climatic conditions and perfectly withstand even long flights over many thousands of kilometers.
These birds feel great throughout Russia, with the exception of the polar regions. They also live in most European countries (including such northern states as Sweden and Finland). In addition, finches live in Africa and some Asian countries.
Almost all types of finches are migratory birds. They leave their nesting sites in the first month of autumn and fly to India, Japan and even exotic islands for wintering. Birds of this species are able to make long flights over a distance of 2-3 thousand kilometers and perfectly coordinate their actions even in large flocks.
The bird prefers to settle in sparse forests, on the edges of large arrays of trees. Often they can be found in parks or near human habitation. Finches are not at all afraid of people, they are able to eat in vegetable gardens and calmly react even to the noisiest equipment. What's more, even wild finches are easily tamed and live perfectly in cages for a long time.
Now you know where the finches live. Let's see what it eats.
What do finches eat?
The main diet of birds is small insects.
Moreover, finches can equally well hunt such flying insects as:
- bugs of all sizes.
Do not think that the finch can only hunt in the air. This is far from true. The bird perfectly catches worms, spiders and caterpillars on the ground. In fact, this is why the finch settles near the dwelling of a person and his agricultural land. There are always more than enough insects in these places.
If there are not enough insects, then birds can switch to plant food. First of all, finches begin to eat plantain seeds, wheat and rye, and various seeds of other plants. Also, birds can peel cones, peck apples and lettuce leaves. But all this finches will eat only in case of a total shortage of insects. If there are enough flies and butterflies, then birds of this species will never look for plant food.
Since finches feel great in captivity, these birds can be kept at home. You can feed them in the same way as canaries. Birds are happy to eat the canary mixture, they will not give up millet, they will be happy to eat woodweed grass. However, the real delicacy for finches living in a cage will be mealworms, maggots (sold at any pet store) and beetles. But live food should be given in moderation, as birds do not know the measure and will eat until the insects run out.
Character and lifestyle features
Despite its modest size, this bird has a streamlined body and powerful wings. All this allows the finches to confidently stay in the air and fly with pleasure for several hours in a row. It is very interesting to watch how deftly and skillfully these birds hunt in the air, making crazy somersaults and changing the direction of flight in an instant.
But the lifestyle of a bird depends on the subspecies to which it belongs. Part of the finches population adheres to a pair lifestyle, the other part lives in small flocks of 10-20 individuals. But even in the case of paired living, the birds prefer to settle close to each other and often there are 2-3 nests in one bush.
By nature, the finch is a very cheerful and cheerful bird that can sing very melodic songs in the morning and until the evening. This song is a mixture of trills and whistles of varying degrees of tonality. The song sounds especially beautiful when males try to lure females.
Despite the fact that the birds prefer a flocking lifestyle, they fly out one by one to get food. They do not have a clearly defined territory, but finches try to hunt alone. But when it comes to wintering flights, the birds gather in flocks of 100-150 individuals and the flight occurs en masse. Moreover, birds can wait for those who lag behind and maintain their numbers until they arrive at their destination.
Social Structure and Reproduction
Finches are monogamous birds . They choose a mate for life and remain faithful to their partner. Even living in large flocks, the couple keeps close to each other and regularly show signs of attention.
Depending on the habitat, finches enter the mating season 1 or 2 times a year. In Russia, birds lay eggs once a year. In Africa and the Galapagos Islands, finches lay their eggs twice a year.
The mating season begins in early May and lasts until early June. The male and female work together to build the nest. Usually, bushes or the thinnest branches of trees are chosen as a place for the nest, as far as possible from the trunk and thick branches.
As a rule, the female lays 2-8 eggs and the incubation period lasts 12-14 days. Only the female is engaged in incubation of eggs, and the male is engaged in obtaining food for her, and later for the chicks.
Chicks are born naked, after a week they are covered with fluff, and the female also begins to fly out of the nest to get food. After another 2 weeks, young finches fly out of the nest and begin to get their own food on their own. Sexual maturity in these birds occurs at 6-7 months, and the life span of finches reaches 10-11 years. At home, birds can live up to 15 years.
Natural enemies of finches
Same as any other birds of a small size, finches have enough enemies. First of all, four-legged predators are classified as natural enemies.
The following animals can prey on both adult birds and egg clutches:
All these animals have enough agility to catch a gaping bird and will definitely not deny themselves the pleasure of eating freshly laid eggs. For this reason, birds try to build nests as far as possible from thick branches and tree trunks.
No less dangerous for egg clutches are snakes. And if, four-legged animals cannot always get to the nest, then snakes are able to crawl even along the thinnest branches. Ornithologists say that only 50-60% of egg clutches are preserved intact and chicks hatch from them.
For adults, birds of prey can pose a threat. Hawks and falcons do not disdain small birds and always attack, it is only necessary for a finch to gape for a few minutes.
Human activity also causes significant damage to the population. And only thanks to high adaptive abilities and sociability, finches manage to maintain their numbers and live in close proximity to people.
Population and species status
It should be said at once that it is absolutely impossible to establish the exact number of birds. This is due to the small size of the bird, and with a huge habitat, and with a migratory lifestyle.
According to rough estimates by ornithologists, about 5-7 million finches of all subspecies live on the globe. Extinction and extinction definitely do not threaten these birds, but their numbers are somewhat reduced. This is mainly due to the fact that people began to actively build on the original territories of birds. In addition, a decrease in the bird population is associated with a decrease in the food supply.
In order for a bird to reproduce and lead a full-fledged lifestyle, it needs insects. Their number has been rapidly declining in recent years, followed by a decrease in the number of finches.
The greatest concern is caused by subspecies of finches living on the Galapogos Islands. These are endemic subspecies, they do not have an influx of fresh blood and the number of these birds is steadily declining. However, they are not threatened with extinction either, since there is always an opportunity to maintain the number of finches with the help of artificial breeding. Currently, finches are found in all major zoos in the world, and about 100 thousand birds of all subspecies live among bird lovers.
Reel is a very cheerful and good-natured bird that lives all over the world. Their numbers are high, and the subspecies are very diverse. Suffice it to say that in the world there are finches that prefer plant food, and vampire finches that drink the blood of other birds in conditions of lack of water.