The Chaffinch is about 14.5 cm (5.7 in) long, with a wingspan of 24.5-28.5 cm (9.6-11.2 in) and a weight of 18-29 g. Males have a black forehead and a blue-grey crown, nape and upper mantle. The rump is a light olive-green; the lower mantle is brown. The side of head, throat and breast are a dull rust-red merging to a pale creamy-pink on the belly. The tail feathers are dark grey with a black shaft streak. The rest of the tail is black with white wedges. The flight feathers are black and white. The bill is pale grey, in spring it becomes bluish-grey. The adult female and juvenile appear much duller than the male. The head and upperparts are shades of grey-brown.The underparts are paler.
Habitat and Distribution
The Chaffinch breeds in wooded areas where the July isotherm is between 12 and 30 °C (54 and 86 °F). The breeding range includes northwest Africa, most of Europe and extends eastwards across temperate Asia to the Angara River and the southern end of Lake Baikal in Siberia. Other subspecies occur on the Azores, the Canary Islands and the Madeira Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. In South Africa they occur in the suburbs of Constantia, Hout Bay and Camps Bay near Cape Town.
The main food of the Chaffinch is seeds, but unlike most finches, the young are fed extensively on insects, and adults also eat insects in the breeding season.
Chaffinches first breed when they are one year old. Breeding season is in spring, begins earlier in southwest Europe and later in the northeast. Nests are built by the female and usually located in the fork of a bush or tree a few metres above ground. The nest has a deep cup and is lined with a layer of thin roots and feathers. The eggs are laid in early morning, daily, making a clutch of 4-5 eggs. They range from pale-bluish green to light red with purple brown blotches, spots or steaks. Incubation takes 10-16 days.
Calls and Songs
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.