The Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), also called by a wide variety of other names, is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae.
The Common Chaffinch’s large double white wing bars, white tail edges and greenish rump easily identify this 14–16 cm long species. The breeding male is unmistakable, with his reddish underparts and a blue-grey cap. The female is drabber and greener, but still obvious.
This bird is widespread and very familiar throughout Europe. It is the most common finch in western Europe, and the second most common bird in the British Isles. Its range extends into western Asia, northwestern Africa, and Macaronesia, where it has many distinctive island forms. In theCanary Islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria, the Common Chaffinch has colonised twice, giving rise to the endemic species known as the Blue Chaffinch and a distinctive subspecies. In each of the Azores, in Madeira, and in the rest of the Canaries there is a single species on each island.
It was introduced from Britain into a number of its overseas territories in the 18th and 19th centuries. In New Zealand it is a common species. In South Africa a very small breeding colony in the suburbs of Constantia, Hout Bay and Camps Bay near Cape Town is the only remnant of one such introduction.
It uses a range of habitats, but open woodland is favoured, although it is common in gardens and on farmland.
This bird is not migratory in the milder parts of its range, but vacates the colder regions in winter. The coelebs part of its name means “bachelor”. This species was named by Linnaeus; in his home country of Sweden, where the females depart in winter, but the males often remain. This species forms loose flocks outside the breeding season, sometimes mixed with Bramblings. This bird occasionally strays to eastern North America, although some sightings may be escapees.
It builds its nest in a tree fork, and decorates the exterior with moss or lichen to make it less conspicuous. It lays about six eggs, which are greenish-blue with purple speckling.
The main food of the Common Chaffinch is seeds, but unlike most finches, the young are fed extensively on insects, and adults also eat insects in the breeding season.
The powerful song is very well known, and its fink or vink sounding call gives the finch family its English name. Males typically sing two or three different song types, and there are regional dialects too</ref>( song (help·info))
The acquisition by the young chaffinch of its song 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.
(From Wikipedia, April 2013)