Winter bird feeder visitors – Bullfinch

Images captured from webcam by IceAge, LK forum
Photos Arne Ader
Translation Liis
Bullfinch    Leevike       Pyrrhula pyrrhula
A little more wintery weather  makes the bullfinches nicely visible on the thin fresh layer of snow.
A quite familiar sight opens: the red-coated bullfinch male stands watch next to or under the  birdfeeder so that his female can eat undisturbed. Only then it is the gentleman’s turn to pick at the sunflower seeds. The pair keeps busy placidly, even preferring to search for seeds spilled on to the ground rather than to compete with other passerines for a place at the feeder. Bullfinches are not interested in lard or the fat balls.
We can see the birds, that trust humans, in the apple trees and lilac shrubs in the garden as well as in maple, ash and rowan trees. They also find edible seeds on higher weeds: docks (Rumex), mugworts (Artemisia).
In winter bullfinches are seen in small groups, operating in cultivated landscapes as well as near unfrozen water bodies. The numbers vary over the years but as an estimate a couple of hundred thousand birds winter in Estonia.
On adults the black head, with a bluish metallic tinge in strong light, catches attention. The black wings are decorated with broad water-grey bands, easily visible on a sitting bird as well as in flight view. The rump area is brilliantly white.
Only the male’s cheeks, chest and throat have the well-known bullfinch-red colour. The females are a little smaller, their breast and cheeks are pinkish brown, the back plumage, patterned in grey, has a pink tint. The back plumage of the male looks a little darker.
How to recognize the juveniles? They look like the females but their head plumage is not black yet but still brown. Eyes and legs of all bullfinches are brown, the beak black and strong. The length of the sturdy passerines begins at 15 centimetres, larger males may weigh almost 40 grams, the smaller one-fourth less.
Bullfinch observations: LINK




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