Species of the month: December - Chaffinch
Let us know if you've seen some on our form below
Scientific Name: Fringilla coelebs
Identification: The male chaffinch is one of the most colourful garden birds with a blue-grey crown, brown back and pink breast. The female has a duller brown plumage.
Diet: They feed on seeds and insects and will happily visit bird tables
Behaviour: A male attracts a female to his territory through song. Breeding occurs from April to June, with a clutch of four to five eggs laid. Chaffinch make nests that are round in shape, delicately constructing them with spiders’ webs, moss and grass, before lining with feathers.
The latter part of the scientific name originates from the Latin “Caelebs”, meaning bachelor or single, in reference to the all-male flocks left when the females leave to migrate.
Cambridge Professor of Animal Ethology, William Thorpe, determined that if young chaffinch are not exposed to the adult male's song during a critical period after hatching, they will never properly learn the song.
In Thomas Hardy’s poem “the Blinded bird”, he described the cruelty of competitions where male chaffinches were pitted against one another in a contest for the most bird calls – sometimes being blinded with hot needles.
Where can they be found?:
The chaffinch is widespread and can be found in grassland, farmland, and woodland habitats, as well as towns and gardens.
If you’re lucky, you may spot one at a number of our reserves including:
Brownsea Island Nature Reserve
Broad Oak Orchard
Wildife Gardening Tips:
- Put out suitable food such as birdseed on a bird table and in feeders up off the ground away from predators.
- Provide places for birds to nest and rest safely by planting native trees and shrubs, or putting up nest boxes
- In the winter especially, it is important to provide fresh water for garden birds to drink and bathe in.
- Keep feeders and tables clean to avoid disease