Friday, 9 March 2007

Chaffinch - getting brighter

Throughout the winter we have up to 20 Chaffinches feeding in the garden. At the start of the winter they are very dull with very little colour. As the winter goes on the males slowly get brighter. Most birds acquire their breeding plumage by moulting, but not all. The Chaffinches new feathers in Autumn have buff coloured tips but as time goes by they gradually wear off to reveal the blue-grey crown and nape and pinkish red face and underparts. The bill becomes bluish with a black tip. Both male and female have the white wing bars and outer tail feathers. One or two stay to breed in the area and their song rings out in the garden. It is said to go to the rhythm of a fast bowler, an accelerating run up with a flourish at the end. They have regional accents, with the final flourish different from area to area. Unfortunately I don't speak "Chaffinch" so I don't know if we have any incomers from foreign parts.