Chaffinch / Fringilla coelebs / حسون ظالم (الصغنج)

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Status: Common

The Chaffinch belongs to the family in the Passerine order. It is probably the most common seed-eater in Europe and also here in winter. The finch family is a big group of colorful songbirds that feed on seeds, group together, have a short and stubby beak, a tail that is slightly forked and a wavy flight. The finches are also considered to be wonderful singers, and probably the most famous of all is the canary that is very popular as a captive bird due to its beautiful song. The Chaffinch is 13-16.5 cm in size and 17-31 grams in weight. The identification of the Chaffinch is quite easy due to the two white bars on its wing and the white trailing edge to its tail. The males have bluish cap and nape, reddish face and chest, a black forehead and greenish rump. The females and juveniles are grayish-brown but still have the obvious wing bars and tail. The males and females have different migration habits. In the end of the breeding season the females leave the males and go on a longer migration journey to spend their winter, while the males are wintering in northern areas and some even remain resident. In the end of the winter the males hurry back to return to the breeding grounds while the females arrive about two weeks later. This unique behavior gave the Chaffinch its Latin name – coelebs which means bachelor. The name was given by Carl Linnaeus himself who lived in Sweden and during winter noticed only male chaffinches. The same goes for the origin of its Arabic name and also in many other languages. The Chaffinch lives in forests, parks, orchards, groves and can also be found in privet gardens and city parks. Its call easily gives away its location. It sounds like a musical "tzu'eep" while perched, and a soft "tzup" during flight. The Chaffinch is common throughout Europe except for the northern tundra, and continues east to central Asia, and also to northern Africa. In Palestine it’s very common on passage and in winter in woodland and gardens. The autumn migration starts in the third week of October and intensifies during the beginning of November. Hundreds of thousands of Chaffinches (and maybe even millions) cross the area during night and sometimes until the early morning. Most of the wintering population in Palestine are females with only 30-40% males. Towards the end of February-beginning of March most of the males will leave while the females remain until the second-third week of March. Occasionally there are a few individuals who stay over summer in the area and together with the fact that the Chaffinch is known to breed in Lebanon, it might also be possible to eventually find it breeding in Palestine.

Conservation status – least concern

Migratory behaviour: Winter