Pyrrhula

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Bullfinches
Bullfinch male.jpg
Eurasian bullfinch, Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Subfamily: Carduelinae
Genus: Pyrrhula
Brisson, 1760
Species

See text.

Pyrrhula is a small genus of passerine birds, commonly called bullfinches, belonging to the finch family (Fringillidae).

The genus has a palearctic distribution. All species occur in Asia with two species exclusively in the Himalayas and one species, P. pyrrhula, also occurring in Europe. The Azores bullfinch (P. murina) is a critically endangered species (about 120 pairs remaining), occurring only in the east of the island of São Miguel in the Azores archipelago.

Analysis of the mtDNA cytochrome b sequence indicates that the holarctic pine grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator) is the closest living relative of this genus. Arguably, it could be included in Pyrrhula, but more probably is a distinct offshoot of a common ancestor, with the pine grosbeak as the sister group to the ancestor of the bullfinches.[1] The evolution of the bullfinch species started soon after the pine grosbeak's ancestors diverged from them (at the end of the Middle Miocene, about a dozen mya), and it is quite possible that the latter species evolved in North America; what is fairly certain is that the bullfinch radiation started in the general area of the Himalayas. The mountain finches also seem to be part of this clade.[2]

Bullfinches have glossy black wings and tail feathers. They show a white rump. The legs and feet are fleshy brown. Their short, swollen bill is adapted to eat buds, and is black except for the brown bullfinch, which has a grey or greenish-grey bill. The males can be distinguished by their orange or red breast. Some species have a black cap.

Species[edit]

P. p. griseiventris from the Kurile Islands, illustrated by William Matthew Hart, 1888

There are seven recognised species in the genus:[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Arnaiz-Villena, A et al. (2001). "Phylogeography of crossbills, bullfinches, grosbeaks, and rosefinches". Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 58 (8): 1159–1166. doi:10.1007/pl00000930. PMID 11529508. 
  2. ^ Marten, Jill A. & Johnson, Ned K. (1986). "Genetic relationships of North American cardueline finches" (PDF). Condor 88 (4): 409–420. doi:10.2307/1368266. 
  3. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "Finches, euphonias". World Bird List Version 5.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 5 June 2015.