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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Hawfinch

Coccothraustes coccothraustes

  • Family: Finches – Fringillidae
  • Appearance: A large finch with an extremely large beak and a thickset head that gives it a neck-less appearance. Prominent white markings on wings and tail.
  • Size: Length 16.5–18 cm, weight 50–55 g.
  • Nest: In trees, usually high up. Outer layer made of twigs and lichen, lined inside with thin roots and hair.
  • Breeding: 4–5 eggs laid May–June, incubated by female for 12–14 days. Fledglings leave nest after 10–14 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds in woodland and parkland mainly in Southern Finland. Finnish breeding population estimated at 1,000–1,500 pairs.
  • Migration: Some birds migrate while others are sedentary. Migrants fly south to Central Europe August–November and return April-May. Winters in Finland in small numbers, especially when bird cherry shrubs bear plenty of berries.
  • Diet: Seeds of trees and shrubs, buds. Able to crack seed coverings as large as cherry stones with its strong beak. (Calculations indicate that such feats require a crushing force comparable to a weight of 25–40 kg.)
  • Calls: A dry “ptsik”, similar to Song Thrush call. Song a succession of such calls.

Hawfinches are thickset, short-necked birds with large heads and long tails. Their most striking features are a large triangle-shaped beak and prominent black and white wing and tail markings. They have reddish grey underparts with a black bib and a white vent. Their dark wings have white and rust-coloured shoulder patches and a white wing bar nearer the wingtip. Males in breeding plumage have metallic bluish black wingtips (females’ wingtips are greyish). Hawfinches’ tails are black at the base but have white tips. They have rusty brown rumps and darker brown backs. Their heads are largely rusty brown, but they have grey neck markings that form a collar round the back of their necks. Their legs and irises are reddish brown. Their beaks are bluish grey with a black tip in summer, but yellowish brown in winter. Their irises are reddish-brown.

Hawfinches are generally inconspicuous birds, since they live up in woodland canopy and tend to move unhurriedly.

Other species from the same family

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