Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)

In much of Europe, this is one of the most elusive finches, but in southern Europe it can be remarkably approachable, even in suburban trees and orchards or clumps of cherries or olives. It is not, even then, very obvious, but can be located by its quiet, clicking calls.Where the Hawfinch is more typically shy, it may provide little more than a glimpse as it flies up through trees and away over the canopy.

It may sometimes be seen perched high on treetops, its size and stocky build then unlike other finches except for the Crossbill.

VOICE Call Robin-like, short, sharp, metallic tik or tzik, thin tzree, tikitik; weak, unmusical, scratchy song.

NESTING Nest of twigs, roots, and moss, lined with rootlets, in old tree; 4 or 5 eggs; 1 brood;April-May.

FEEDING Mostly takes large tree seeds, berries, cherries, and other fruit stones from trees; also picks hornbeam, sycamore, beech, and other seeds from ground in late winter.

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Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)

A pest in some areas, but seriously declining in many, the Bullfinch is a quiet, inconspicuous bird despite its bold plumage. It uses its round bill to feed on soft buds, flowers, and shoots rather than hard seeds, usually feeding in pairs or family groups. If disturbed, it moves out of sight through a thicket or hedge. Its whistled calls are then highly distinctive. It does not visit bird-tables or feeders, although it may come to gardens in spring to raid flowering fruit trees.

VOICE Call low, soft, clear whistles, slightly descending,peuuw, deu, or phiu; song infrequent, creaky pea-whistle quality, with calls intermixed.

NESTING Cup of twigs, lined with moss and grass, in bush or tree;4 or 5 eggs; 2 broods;April-June.

FEEDING Eats soft buds, seeds, berries, shoots, and some invertebrates, from low bushes and shrubs, occasionally on ground.

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Serin (Serinus serinus)

A tiny, bouncy, colourful finch with sharp, spluttering calls, the Serin is characteristic of many Mediterranean areas. Males sing from the tops of spindly conifers, or in a fast, fluttery song-flight. Although superficially like other green and yellow finches, the Serin is generally easily identified in its usual range. However, various possible escaped cage birds have to be ruled out when identifying a potential out-of-range vagrant, including dull, streaky young Canaries.

VOICE Silvery, rapid trill, zirr-r-r-r-r-r; rising tuweee; song very quick, sharp, jingling or breaking glass quality, trills and twitters, often in stiff-winged song-flight.

NESTING Tiny, hair-lined cup of grass and moss in tree or bush; 4 eggs; 2 or 3 broods; May-July.

FEEDING Eats tiny seeds, mostly from ground or on low-growing plants.

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Citril Finch (Serinus citrinella)

A small, neat finch, with a combination of soft grey, pale lemon-yellow, and apple-green on its body and boldly barred wings, the Citril Finch is a bird of high altitude forest- edge habitats. It feeds on the ground or in trees in clearings or around grassy Alpine meadows within easy reach of spruce trees. It is usually found in small groups or family parties, looking puzzlingly like subtly marked Siskins or small, dull Greenfinches at first.

VOICE Various quick flight calls, short tek or te-te-te; song quick, varied, rambling warble with wheezy notes and buzzy trills.

NESTING Nest of grass and lichens, lined with plant down, high in tree; 4 or 5 eggs;1 or 2 broods; May-July.

FEEDING Feeds on seeds, both from trees and on ground beneath.

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Siskin (Carduelis spinus)

A tree-seed feeder, the Siskin is particularly associated with conifers, but also feeds in birch and alder trees in winter. It visits gardens to eat peanuts and sunflower seeds, but is not usually a ground-feeder. In winter, it associates in flocks, which share a bounding, tight-packed sociability with the Redpoll. Males sometimes separate out from the flocks in spring to sing from treetops. When feeding, these tiny finches are acrobatic, almost tit-like in their actions.

VOICE Flight calls loud, whistled, clear, with slightly squeaky or metallic quality, tsy-zee or tsu-ee; feeding birds give low, hoarse buzz or purr; song mixes calls and fast trills with hard twittering notes, from tree or in flight.

NESTING Tiny nest of twigs and stems, lined with plant down and hair, high in tree; 4 or 5 eggs; 1 or 2 broods; May-July.

FEEDING Eats seeds of pine, larch, and various other trees.

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Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

This large, stocky, thick-billed finch breeds in loose groups in tall trees, old hedges, overgrown gardens, and orchards, and is a frequent garden visitor in winter, either to feeders or to shrubs with berries. Where common, Greenfinches gather into large feeding flocks, flying up together in a rush, more like Linnets and sparrows than Chaffinches. Adults are easily identified, but duller juveniles can be more troublesome at times.

VOICE Flight call fast, light, tinny chatter, tit-it-it-it-it, loud, nasal tzoo-eee, hard jup-jup-jup; fine song series of staccato trills of varying pace and quality, some metallic and thin, others full, musical, with droning, buzzy dzweee intermixed; often in flight chup-chup-chup, chip-ipipip chrYrYrYr, tit-it-it-it-it chup-up.

NESTING Bulky nest of grass and twigs, lined with finer stems, hair, and feathers, in thick bushes or trees; 4-6 eggs; 1 or 2 broods; April-July.

FEEDING Eats seeds, from trees to short plants, many taken from ground; also feeds on berries and nuts; visits bird-tables and feeders.

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Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis )

Although it is widespread in Europe „ even in cool, damp climates, the Goldfinch seems most at home in the hot, sunny summer of the Mediterranean.

Its bouncy, lively actions and flashing colours go well with the bright, dry conditions and surroundings of brightly flowering plants on the seeds of which it feeds.

It is, however, also found farther north in farmland with scattered woods and plenty of rough, open ground. Such places tend to be labelled “waste” and are all to often tidied up and stripped of the seed-bearing herbs and shrubs on which so many finches depend.

VOICE Calls are highly distinctive variations on usual finch theme: chattering, skipping flight call, skip-i-lip or tililip with liquid, lilting quality, rough tschair; song musical and varied, mixture of call notes and liquid trills.

NESTING Neat nest of roots, grass, and cobwebs, in tree or shrub; 5 or 6 eggs; 2 broods; May-July.

FEEDING Feeds on soft, half-ripe seeds on low- growing to medium-height plants, less often on ground; also eats tree seeds from alder and birch.

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