Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

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Male greenfinch on pussy willow
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Greenfinch fact file

Greenfinch description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyFringillidae
GenusCarduelis (1)

The greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) is a well-known bird as it often visits gardens (5) and drives other birds away from feeders (6). It is a relatively heavy looking bird, with a chunky bill and a stout body (5). It can be recognised by the yellow outer-most wing feathers (the primaries) which are visible when the bird is perching, the yellow flashes on the tail, seen easily when the bird is in flight, and the greenish underparts (2). Males have a yellowish-green breast and are much more yellow than the duller greyish female (2). Juveniles are similar to females, but are streaked (5). A twittering call is produced in flight; other vocalisations include a canary-like song and a wheezy, nasal ‘dschruuuuuh(2) (5).

Also known as
European greenfinch.
French
Verdier.
Size
Length: 14 – 16 cm (2)
Wingspan: 24.5-27.5 cm (3)
Weight
81-96 g (3)
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Greenfinch biology

This finch uses its powerful bill to break open seeds, which it feeds on throughout the year (5). In winter the greenfinch may form groups with other finches and buntings (3), and as natural seed stocks dwindle at this time of year, they increasingly rely on artificial food sources, such as bird tables (6).

Greenfinches nest in small colonies in trees and bushes (2) and only defend a very small area around their nest. They sing and display in spring and have a characteristic wavering display flight that shows off their yellow wing and tail flashes (5). Between four and six eggs are produced per clutch, and incubation takes up to 15 days. The young are fully fledged 18 days after hatching (3).

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Greenfinch range

Widespread and common throughout Britain. Elsewhere, the breeding range of the greenfinch extends throughout mainland Europe, north-western Africa and reaches east to Turkey (6).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Greenfinch habitat

Breeds in a very wide range of habitats including woodland edges, parks, gardens, conifer plantations and tall hedgerows (3) (2). The greenfinch is more likely to feed in fields and gardens in winter (3).

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Greenfinch status

The greenfinch is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1). Included in the Birds of Conservation Concern Amber List (medium conservation concern) (4).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

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Greenfinch threats

The greenfinch is not threatened at present, and abundance has not changed significantly since the 1960s (4).

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Greenfinch conservation

Conservation action has not been targeted at the greenfinch.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Find out more

For more information on the greenfinch and other bird species:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Incubation
The act of incubating eggs, that is, keeping them warm so that development is possible.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Mullarney, K., Svensson, L., Zetterström, D. & Grant, P.J. (1999) Collins Bird Guide. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, London.
  3. RSPB A-Z of Birds: Greenfinch (February 2004):
    http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/guide/g/greenfinch/index.asp
  4. British Trust for Ornithology/ JNCC- breeding birds in the wider countryside: greenfinch (February 2004):
    http://www.bto.org/birdtrends/
  5. Holden, P. & Sharrock, J.T.R. (2002) The RSPB Guide to British Birds.. Pan Macmillan, London.
  6. Lack. P. (1986) The Atlas of wintering birds in Britain and Ireland.. T & A D Poyser Ltd, London.
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Image credit

Male greenfinch on pussy willow  
Male greenfinch on pussy willow

© Alan Williams / www.photoshot.com

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