Nature Table: The chaffinch

There are estimated to be over 2 million breeding pairs of chaffinches in Ireland, making them among our commonest birds. 

They are found in practically every habitat apart from high uplands and, according to BirdWatch Ireland’s Garden Bird Survey, they were our fifth commonest garden bird during last winter’s survey period.

Male birds are attractive and distinctive with salmon pink underparts and a blue-grey head and neck. The colours fade somewhat in the winter.

Females are much duller but the distinctive white shoulder patches and white feathers in the wings and tail when they’re in flight maker both sexes fairly easy to identify.

The only confusion can be with the brambling, a rather rare winter visitor which has an orange body rather than the pink of a male chaffinch.

They are mainly seed eaters, though they tend to feed invertebrates to their young.

They can form large flocks in autumn and winter, augmented by migrants, which are mostly females, and spend more time feeding on the ground than other finches do.


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