Chaffinch

Fringilla coelebs

Common name:

Chaffinch

Scientific name:

Fringilla coelebs

Alternative common names:

Common chaffinch.

The chaffinch is a common and widespread, small passerine bird in the finch family. It breeds in much of Europe, across Asia to Siberia and in Northwest Africa. It prefers open woodland and often forages on the ground. It is known to spread disease such as the Trichomonas gallinae parasite.

Additional Info

  • Where does this species come from?

    Europe to western Asia.

    What is its invasive status in South Africa?

    NEMBA Category 1a.

    Where in South Africa is it a problem?

    Western Cape and Eastern Cape.

    How does it spread?

    Largely resident and inactive, although it may make local movements in the period from March-September.

    Why is it a problem?

    Chaffinches are known to spread disease such as the Trichomonas gallinae parasite, which infects indigenous birds. In pigeons, this disease is commonly called canker.

    What does it look like?

    Description: The chaffinch is about 14.5cm long, with a wingspan of 24.5–28.5cm and a weight of 18–29g. In summer, males have colourful plumage with a rosy-red breast and cheeks and a bluish-grey crown and nape of the neck. These colours fade somewhat in winter. Adult females and chicks have a buff or greyish breast and greyish-green upper parts. Habitat: It almost exclusively occupies plantations, alien woodlands, parks and gardens, and is rarely seen in indigenous fynbos vegetation. Breeding: Egg-laying season is from September-November. It lays about 3-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 12-13 days. Young chaffinches are fully fledged 13-14 days after hatching, and the maximum known lifespan of this species is 14 years.