Birds – The Fringillidae

Birds – The Fringillidae

The Fringillidae

The Fringillidae

In this article we will see: “The Fringillidae”, birds, diverse and captivating, grace our skies with their melodies. From vibrant plumage to impressive flights, they captivate with endless wonders.

Birds – The Fringillidae

Brief Background

Divided into 4 subfamilies, the Fringillidae family includes finches, coal tits, greenfinches, bullfinches, linnets, buntings, crossbills, and other grosbeaks. They are small birds with variable plumage, sometimes colorful and vibrant, sometimes modest and dull, with males generally being more colorful than females, except for the goldfinch where both sexes are identical.

While the shape of their mandibles varies significantly from one species to another, sometimes displaying astonishing adaptations, the beak is, in most cases, short, stout, and conical. It is a true tool, a pair of pincers capable of grasping and extracting seeds, shelling them, and reducing them into small pieces. Their legs are sturdy, wings short and rounded, and they exhibit a characteristic undulating flight.

Appearance and Behaviour

Adapting to various environments, whether lush or desert-like depending on the species, Fringillidae are found in plains, mountain forests, bushes, reeds, stony regions, and even in Arctic tundras, despite being unfavorable for small passerine birds.

Many of them are good singers, and a few are excellent musicians, generally not very shy.

Being social by nature, Fringillidae tend to form flocks that sometimes include several species. These groups move together in search of food but disband during the nesting season, although some species reproduce in more or less scattered colonies.

They walk or hop on the ground, occasionally employing both methods, but rarely descending from the treetops. Fringillidae primarily feed on plant matter, with seeds occupying a predominant place in their diet. They also consume fruits and buds.


During spring, many of them consume numerous insects, larvae, and small worms, which are also relished by the nestlings.

Fringillidae reproduce in isolated pairs or in associations of varying density. The female takes charge of nest construction, using materials such as moss, twigs, dry grass, and lichens. Some nests, like those of the chaffinch or goldfinch, are true masterpieces. Suspended in trees, concealed in bushes, or hidden in grass, the nests built by this family have a cup-like shape, often deep and difficult to spot.

The clutch consists of 3 to 7 eggs, with a bluish, beige, or pale green background, speckled and dotted with brown, ochre, and black. Some, like those of buntings, bear characteristic patterns. The incubation period, lasting 11 to 14 days, is solely undertaken by the female. Both adults share the task of raising the young, which hatch covered in down.

There are often 2 broods per year. Depending on the species, Fringillidae can be sedentary or migratory, although most show a tendency towards vagrancy during winter. The harsh season, usually spent in groups, is better endured by these seed-eating birds compared to other species. However, driven by famine, some Fringillidae occasionally embark on true, more or less cyclical invasions.


The Fringillidae family, or finches, comprises 372 species distributed worldwide, except for Antarctica. Only 30 species, including 13 buntings, breed in Europe.

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A final word

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