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Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch

From Opus

Fringilla polatzeki


[edit] Identification

16–17 cm (6¼-6¾ in);

  • Pale grey bill
  • Whitish wing bars

Breeding male

  • Pale greyish-blue head and mantle
  • Light grey breast, throat and flanks
  • White undertail Coverts


  • Brownish-grey upperparts
  • Greyish-white below

[edit] Similar Species

Adult male is smaller than Tenerife Blue Chaffinch (shorter wings and marginally smaller bill), with a blacker forehead band, overall paler plumage and whiter wing-bars. The two species do not overlap in range.

[edit] Distribution

Found exclusively in the Pinus canariensis forests of Gran Canaria where drastic deforestation has occured. This species is critically endangered. There may only be 185 individual birds, restricted to the Ojeda, Inagua, Pajonales and maybe Tamadaba pine forests.

[edit] Taxonomy

Formerly lumped with Tenerife Blue Chaffinch under the name "Blue Chaffinch."

[edit] Subspecies

This is a monotypic species[1].

[edit] Habitat

Forests of Canary pine (Pinus canariensis) mainly between c. 700 m and 1200 m.

[edit] Behaviour

During the breeding season pairs establish and defend territories. Territories are generally larger in this species than for the Tenerife Blue Chaffinch.

[edit] Diet

Feeding occurs mostly on the ground. Pine seeds constitute the staple food throughout the year, but the diet also includes a significant proportion of arthropods.

[edit] Breeding

The breeding season begins in mid-April.

[edit] Vocalisation

Song is higher-pitched than that of Tenerife Blue Chaffinch, the notes being markedly softer and more subdued in the second part of the song.

[edit] History

The blue chaffinch has suffered hugely from unscrupulous collecting by early ornithologists. One, the Austrian Rudolph Von Thanner, is known to have shot 76 on Gran Canaria at the beginning of the 20th Century.

[edit] Movements

Resident and generally very sedentary, making only very local movements within pine forests.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from
  2. del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch (Fringilla polatzeki). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 16 February 2020).
  3. Gill, F & D Donsker (Eds). 2019. IOC World Bird List (v9.2). doi : 10.14344/IOC.ML.9.2. Available at
  4. Grant, P.J., K. Mullarney, L. Svensson, D. Zetterstrom (1999) Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe. Harpercollins Pub Ltd ISBN 0 00 219728 6
  5. Sangster, G., Rodríguez-Godoy, F., Roselaar, C.S., Robb, M.S. & Luksenburg, J.A. (2016) Integrative taxonomy reveals Europe’s rarest songbird species, the Gran Canaria blue chaffinch Fringilla polatzeki. J. Avian Biol. 47(2): 159–166.
  6. Lifjeld, J.T., Anmarkrud, J.A., Calabuig, P., Cooper, J.E.J., Johannessen, L.E., Johnsen, A., Kearns, A.M., Lachlan, R.F., Laskemoen, T., Marthinsen, G., Stensrud, E. & Garcia-del-Rey, E. (2016) Species-level divergences in multiple functional traits between the two endemic subspecies of Blue Chaffinches Fringilla teydea in Canary Islands. BMC Zool. 1: 4. doi: 10.1186/s40850–016–0008–4.

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