The bullfinch or common bullfinch (lat. Pyrrhula pyrrhula) is a species of songbirds of the roaming tribe, a family of finch and of the eponymous bullfinch.
In Latin, the name of the bird means "fiery". Bullfinch got its Russian name from the Turkic word "took down", What means "red chest". And the modern name of bullfinch has been acquired by a sign: bright birds with a red-pink belly become especially noticeable with the onset of cold weather.
Bullfinch in the branches
The modern classification identifies 3 subspecies of bullfinches that inhabit the territory of Russia and 5 foreign subspecies, which differ in the shade of plumage.
What does a bullfinch look like?
The size of the bullfinch is slightly larger than the sparrow and is distinguished by a dense build. The body length of an adult bird is 18 cm, with a mass of not more than 34 g. The wingspan of the bullfinch is 23-30 cm.
The beak is wide and thick, the Caucasian bullfinch is especially bloated. The legs are strong, with three fingers ending in sharp claws. The tail is proportional, of medium length. Plumage is thick, with well-developed downy layer.
The shoulders and neck of females and males are colored gray or blue-gray. Males are distinguished by a gray back, females – brown-brown. The head of adults is decorated with a black cap, the wings are intensely black with a blue metallic tint. Nadhvoste, as well as feathers under the tail painted white. In males, the lower part of the neck, cheeks, sides and abdomen are bright red in color, in females it is gray-brown.
The chicks are characterized by ocher-brown plumage, the black cap appears at the age of six months after the first molt.
Area and lifestyle of bullfinches
In the summer of bullfinch is difficult to see, the birds prefer to live in dense forests and light forest. But in winter the birds are clearly distinguishable against the background of snow and bare branches of trees. The area of bullfinches passes through all European countries, covers the Front and East Asia, through Siberia, to the Kamchatka region and Japan. In Russia, bullfinch can be found in all forest areas, as well as in forest-steppes, where coniferous trees grow.
Most bullfinches are sedentary. Nomadic population leaves the taiga in winter and moves to Central Asian countries and East China.
What do bullfinch eat?
The diet of bullfinches consists of seeds and buds of plants, as well as small insects, mainly arachnids. Most of the food is berries, especially rowan and bird cherry. At what bullfinchs solely graze, and the pulp is spat out.
The bright plumage of birds is partly due to the addiction to food rich in carotenoids. Bullfinch chicks are also fed mainly with plant food, with a small addition of insects and berries.
Bullfinches are schooling birds, which are divided into pairs during the breeding season. The mating season begins in March – April, then in the forests you can hear the melodious trills of males and the response whistles of females.
Bullfinches: male and female
Males zealously care for their darlings, yielding the best branches of berries. But to a greater extent because of fear, because the bullfinch females are distinguished by their severe temper and are much stronger than the males.
Nests are located in coniferous and mixed forests with a predominance of spruce forest. Bowls resembling nests are settled in fir paws, at a height of 1.5 to 5 meters from the ground. The walls of the nest are skillfully woven of thin rods, the bottom is lined with moss and last year’s foliage. The diameter of the nest is 20 cm, and the height is about 8 cm.
In early May, the female lays from 4 to 7 bluish, dark-brown speckled eggs. The incubation period lasts about 15 days, after which offspring is born, which the caring parents feed tirelessly for 2 weeks.
While the chicks learn to fly, the parents continue to feed them, and at the age of one month the children are ready for independent living. Adult, bright plumage, young bullfinch find in autumn, after the first molt.
A young bullfinch eats black chokeberry and looks at the photographer with caution
Under favorable conditions, the bullfinch can live up to 15 years, but in severe winters with a lack of food, many birds, unfortunately, die.
An interesting fact: the bullfinches are called mockingbirds, because of the amazing ability to imitate the voices of other birds and even the creaking of trees.