Brambling

Fringilla montifringilla

14cm

Appearance

Though the Brambling is similar in stature to the Chaffinch, the bill is shorter, and the fork in the tail is more distinct. The Brambling shows a white rump when flying, has a white belly, and orangish sections on the shoulder and breast. The sexes do vary - males during spring are distinctly black on the head and back, with black bills, subtle dark blotches on the flanks, pale feather margins and orange-tinged white wing bars. The winter male’s orange markings are less vivid and the black sections turn brownish; the bill changes to yellow and is dark-tipped. Female resembles the winter male, though her colours are less vivid, and her neck has greyish sides. Juveniles resemble females, with paler colours and less vivid markings.

Habitat

Habitat is wherever there is food, and it particularly likes beech trees. Frequents farmland, parks, sewage works, and less regularly, gardens.

Character

The Brambling shares many traits with the Chaffinch, and is often called the ‘northern Chaffinch’. A very social bird when not breeding, the Brambling may join flocks of thousands, and regularly socialises with Chaffinch flocks. Flocks follow the supply of food and water, meaning their location varies.

Food

Eats predominately seeds during winter, particularly beechmast. Summer diet includes insects such as beetles and the caterpillars of moths.

Breeding

Rarely breeds in the region. Female lays 5-7 eggs which she incubates for 11-12 days. Both parents tend to the young, which depart the nest at about 13-14 days old.

Population

Mostly a winter visitor to the region, arriving in mid-September and departing in March. Bramblings travel where food is plentiful, so in a good season of beech nuts, the region may host an influx. Due to this, winter populations vary between 45 000 and 1.8 million in Britain and Ireland.

Observation Tips

Best to view Bramblings in winter, from October through to March. Mature woods of beech trees are the best place to search for these birds; also worth scanning Chaffinch flocks for Brambling guests.

Voice

The call is an abrasive ‘uuurp’ or a ‘shway’, and the song is a collection of nasally ‘dzwee’ notes, though it is not often heard in the region.
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