Common Chaffinch

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image: chaffinch.jpg

Common Name: Common Chaffinch
Scientific Name: Fringilla coelebs

Size: 5½ -6 inches (14cm)

Habitat: Europe, North Africa, and Northwest Asia. Winters Southern Europe to Southern Asia. Introduced to South Africa and New Zealand. Found in forests, woodlands and farmed areas.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 500,000,000 – 1,500,000,000 Mature individuals.

Diet: Mostly seed; some invertebrates in summer. Forages on the ground.

Breeding: Four to five eggs are laid in nest in a tree fork, and camoflauged with moss or lichen to make it less conspicuous. Young are fed almost exclusively insects.

Cool Facts: Although, it is now illegal to catch birds in the wild, in a number of countries such as Belgium, the Chaffinch is a popular pet bird.

In Western Belgium, “finching” is a popular sport. In a finching contest, a number of cages each housing a male finch are lined up, usually along a street. Every time the bird sings its song this is marked with a chalk stripe on a wooden stick, and the bird singing its song the most times during one hour wins the contest.

The song of the Chaffinch is very well known, and the “fink” contact call gives the finch family its English name. Males typically sing two or three different song types, and there are regional dialects too. The learning of the chaffinch song by its’ young was the subject of an influential study by British ethologist William Thorpe. “Thorpe determined that if the chaffinch is not exposed to the adult male's song during a certain critical period after hatching, it will never properly learn the song. He also found that in adult Chaffinches, castration eliminates song, but injection of testosterone induces such birds to sing even in November, when they are normally silent” (Thorpe 1958).

Found in Songbird ReMix European Edition 1

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