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Common Chaffinch - BirdForum Opus

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Male of subspecies F. c. gengleri
Photo © by vicky_king
Ynys-hir, Wales, July 2004
Fringilla coelebs


Female of subspecies F. c. gengleri
Photo © by postcardcv
RSPB Ynys-hir, Wales, July 2004

Length 14-18 cm (5½-7 in), weight 17-29 g

  • Large double white wing bars and below the lower an extra white spot.
  • White tail edges
  • Greenish rump
  • Breeding male:

Reddish-pink underparts and grey cap.

  • Winter male:

Colours slightly duller, with wingbars often tinged yellow-buff.

  • Female:

Drabber and greener, but still obvious.

  • Immature:

As female, but with wingbars even duller yellow-buff.


Males in north Africa and The Canaries look quite different, more blue/green and less red colours showing. See also ref[1]

Similar species

Male of subspecies F. c. africana
Photo © by sdaly
Middle Atlas, Morocco, November 2005

Brambling is often found together with Chaffinches in winter; it differs in an orange (not pink) breast and wingbars, whiter belly, dark spots on the flanks, white rump, and lacking the white sides to the tail.


Widespread and very familiar throughout Europe. It is the most common finch in most of western and northern Europe. Its range extends into western Asia, north-western Africa, the Canary Islands and Madeira.

It is also found on Tenerife and Gran Canaria, along with the related endemic Tenerife Blue Chaffinch and Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch.

Summer visitor in northern and eastern Europe, found all year in the rest of Europe.

Introduced in New Zealand and the Cape Town area of South Africa.


Male of subspecies F. c. canariensis
Photo © by acrocephalus00
La Gomera, Canary Islands.


Male in flight
Photo © by the late Rookery
Te Awanga, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, July 2011

There are 16 subspecies[2] which can be grouped into three main groups: European (including southwest Asia), north African, and the forms on the Atlantic islands. Some authors have suggested some of these subspecies may deserve status as full species, but this is not supported by genetic data[3].


Posturing males; subspecies africana on left, probably nominate subspecies on right
Photo © by peterday
Khemisset, Morocco, March 2018

Woods, hedges, parks and gardens.



It builds a neat cup of grass lichen or moss. The clutch consists of 4-5 light blue eggs, with purply-brown spots. Incubation takes 12-13 days with a further 13-16 days to fledging. There is 1 brood in the season which lasts from April to the end of June.


The diet includes insects in breeding season and mainly seeds at other times.


Song: A series of Chip-Chip-Chip notes
Call: A loud Pink Pink

Listen in an external program


  1. Thread in the BF id forum discussing aberrant bluish Chaffinch.
  2. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  3. Collinson, M. (2001). Evolution of the Atlantic-island Chaffinches. Brit. Birds 94 (3): 121–124.
  4. Bird Watching
  5. Birdforum thread with taxonomy info. In post 6 there is info on separating African from European versions

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