This bird has benefitted from conifer planting but comes from the vast tracts of coniferous forest in Europe, Asia and North America. Very complicated relationships within the species may soon be resolved by DNA analysis to create lots (more than a dozen) new species.
Males are reddish and females yellow or green. Both sexes of this robust finch have crossed beaks to tear open cones to feed on the seeds and strong feet as they are very acrobatic. Their call is a dead give away as they fly over - a very sharp 'chip'. They have to follow good cone crops and may irrupt over long distances and turn up in unexpected places in the summer. Many breed in the winter when the cones first have good seed in them. Their nomadic nature means that it is difficult to make a population estimate but there were possibly 100,000 pairs after 1990 invasion in Britain and Ireland!
Conifer-dependant finch with the crossed bill.
Length 165 Closed wing 98 mm Weight 40 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead