European greenfinch

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European greenfinch
European Greenfinch male female.jpg
Male above, female below
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Subfamily: Carduelinae
Genus: Chloris
Species: C. chloris
Binomial name
Chloris chloris
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Synonyms

Carduelis chloris

Eggs MHNT

The European greenfinch, or just greenfinch (Chloris chloris) is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae.

This bird is widespread throughout Europe, north Africa and south west Asia. It is mainly resident, but some northernmost populations migrate further south. The greenfinch has also been introduced into both Australia and New Zealand. In Malta it is considered a prestigious song bird which has been trapped for many years. It has been domesticated and many Maltese people breed them.

Taxonomy[edit]

The greenfich was described by Linnaeus in 1758 in the 10th edition of his Systema Naturae under the binomial name of Loxia chloris.[2][3] Chloris is from the Greek Khloros meaning "green" or "yellowish-green".[4]

The finch family, Fringillidae, is divided into two subfamilies, the Carduelinae, containing around 28 genera with 141 species and the Fringillinae containing a single genus, Fringilla, with 3 species. The finch family are all seed-eaters with stout conical bills. They have similar skull morphologies, nine large primaries, twelve tail feathers and no crop. In all species the female bird builds the nest, incubates the eggs and broods the young. Fringilline finches raise their young almost entirely on arthropods while the cardueline finches raise their young on regurgitated seeds.[5]

Phylogenetic analysis based on DNA sequence data indicated that the greenfinches were not closely related to other members of the Carduelis genus.[6] They have therefore been placed in a separate genus Chloris.[7][8]

There are ten recognised subspecies:[7]

  • Chloris chloris harrisoni Clancey, 1940 – Britain (except northern Scotland) and Ireland
  • Chloris chloris chloris (Linnaeus, 1758) – northern Scotland, northern and central France and Norway to western Siberia
  • Chloris chloris muehlei Parrot, 1905 – Serbia and Montenegro to Moldovia, Bulgaria and Greece
  • Chloris chloris aurantiiventris (Cabanis, 1851) – southern Spain through southern Europe to western Greece
  • Chloris chloris madaraszi Tschusi, 1911 – Corsica and Sardinia
  • Chloris chloris vanmarli Voous, 1952 – northwestern Spain, Portugal and northwestern Morocco
  • Chloris chloris voousi (Roselaar, 1993) – central Morocco and northern Algeria
  • Chloris chloris chlorotica (Bonaparte, 1850) – south-central Turkey to northeastern Egypt
  • Chloris chloris bilkevitchi Zarudny, 1911 – southern Ukraine, the Caucasus and northeastern Turkey to northern Iran and southwestern Turkmenistan
  • Chloris chloris turkestanica Zarudny, 1907 – southern Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan and central Tajikistan

Description[edit]

The greenfinch is 15 cm long with a wing span of 24.5 to 27.5 cm. It is similar in size and shape to a house sparrow,[9] but is mainly green, with yellow in the wings and tail. The female and young birds are duller and have brown tones on the back. The bill is thick and conical. The song contains a lot of trilling twitters interspersed with wheezes, and the male has a "butterfly" display flight.

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

Woodland edges, farmland hedges and gardens with relatively thick vegetation are favoured for breeding. It nests in trees or bushes, laying 3 to 6 Eggs.[10][11]

This species can form large flocks outside the breeding season, sometimes mixing with other finches and buntings. They feed largely on seeds, but also take berries.

Reproduction[edit]

Breeding season occurs in spring, starting in the second half of March, until June, with fledging young in early July. Incubation lasts about 13-14 days, by the female. Male feeds her at the nest during this period. Chicks are covered with thick, long, greyish-white down at hatching. They are fed on insect larvae by both adults during the first days, and later, by frequent regurgitated yellowish past of seeds. They leave the nest about 13 days later but they are not able to fly. Usually, they fledge 16–18 days after hatching. This species produces two or three broods per year.[10][11]

In Australasia the greenfinches breeding season is from October to March.[12]

Predators and parasites[edit]

The protozoal parasite Trichomonas gallinae was known to infect pigeons and raptors but beginning in Britain in 2005, carcases of dead European greenfinches and common chaffinches were found to be infected with the parasite.[13] The disease spread and in 2008 infected carcases were found in Norway, Sweden and Finland and a year later in Germany. The spread of the disease is believed to have been mediated by chaffinches as large numbers of the birds breed in northern Europe and winter in Britain.[14] In Britain the number of infected carcases recovered each year declined after a peak in 2006. There was a reduction in the number of greenfinches from around 4.3 million to around 2.8 million but no significant decline in the overall number of chaffinches.[15] A similar pattern occurred in Finland where, after the arrival of the disease in 2008, there was a reduction in the number of greenfinches but only a small change in the number of chaffinches.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Carduelis chloris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Paynter 1968, pp. 235-236.
  3. ^ Linnaeus (1758), p. 174.
  4. ^ Jobling 2010, p. 102.
  5. ^ Collar et al. (2010), pp. 440-441.
  6. ^ Zuccon, Dario; Prŷs-Jones, Robert; Rasmussen, Pamela C.; Ericson, Per G.P. (2012). "The phylogenetic relationships and generic limits of finches (Fringillidae)" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 62 (2): 581–596. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.10.002. 
  7. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "Finches, euphonias". World Bird List Version 5.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  8. ^ Sangster, G et al. (2011). "Taxonomic recommendations for British birds: seventh report". Ibis 153: 883–892. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2011.01155.x. 
  9. ^ The Birds of the Western Palearctic [Abridged]. OUP. 1997. ISBN 0-19-854099-X. 
  10. ^ a b Bensouilah, Taqiyeddine; Brahmia, Hafid; Zeraoula, Ali; Bouslama, Zihad; Houhamdi, Moussa (2014). "Breeding biology of the European Greenfinch Chloris chloris in the loquat orchards of Algeria (North Africa)". Zoology and Ecology 24 (3): 199–207. doi:10.1080/21658005.2014.934514. 
  11. ^ a b Kosiński, Ziemowit (2001). "The breeding ecology of the greenfinch Carduelis chloris in urban conditions (study in Krotoszyn, W Poland)". Acta Ornithologica 36 (2): 111–121. doi:10.3161/068.036.0203. 
  12. ^ Robertson, Hugh A.; Heather, B.D.; Onley, Derek J. (2005). The Hand Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand: Penguin Books. p. 160. ISBN 0-14-028835-X. 
  13. ^ Robinson, R A et al. (2010). "Emerging infectious disease leads to rapid population declines of common British birds". PLoS ONE 5 (8). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012215. 
  14. ^ Lawson, B. et al. (2011). "Evidence of spread of emerging infectious disease, finch trichomonosis, by migrating birds". Ecohealth 8: 143–153. doi:10.1007/s10393-011-0696-8. 
  15. ^ Lawson, B et al. (2012). "The emergence and spread of finch trichomonosis in the British Isles". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 367 (1604): 2852–2863. doi:10.1098/rstb.2012.0130. JSTOR 41740010. 
  16. ^ Lehikoinen, A; Lehikoinen, E; Valkama, J; Väisänen, R A; Isomursu, M (2013). "Impacts of trichomonosis epidemics on Greenfinch Chloris chloris and Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs populations in Finland". Ibis 155 (2): 357–366. doi:10.1111/ibi.12028. 

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