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Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes) | by Brian Carruthers-Dublin-Eire
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Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)

[order] Passeriformes | [family] Fringillidae | [latin] Coccothraustes coccothraustes | [UK] Hawfinch | [FR] Gros-bec casse-noyaux | [DE] Kernbeisser | [ES] Pepitero Común | [IT] Frosone | [NL] Appelvink


spanwidth min.: 29 cm

spanwidth max.: 33 cm

size min.: 16 cm

size max.: 18 cm


incubation min.: 11 days

incubation max.: 13 days

fledging min.: 12 days

fledging max.: 13 days

broods 1

eggs min.: 3

eggs max.: 6



Physical characteristics


Very large, huge-bill, big-headed, short-tailed, short-legged finch, bigger than all other common finches of temperate woodlands. Adult plumage warm buff, with bill blue-grey in breeding season, yellow in winter, emphasized by black lore and bib, grey nape, brown back, black flight-feathers boldly panelled white on larger coverts and across primaries, and white-tipped tail. Sexes dissimilar at close range, little seasonal variation.




Breed in west Palearctic in lowland and hilly temperate zone, and parts of boreal, Mediterranean, and steppe zones, continental and to lesser extent oceanic. Most characteristically a specialist bird of natural open mixed oak and hornbeam forest, but extends freely to most other tall deciduous trees which carry large fruits within handling capacity of massive bill, especially beech, ash, wych elm, and sycamore or maple. Accordingly mainly found in crowns and forest canopy, liking to perch on topmost twigs.


Other details


Coccothraustes coccothraustes is a widespread breeder across much of Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is very large (>2,400,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in a few countries during 1990-2000, populations were stable or increased across the vast majority of Europe, and the species remained stable overall.




Large hard seeds, buds, and shoots of trees and shrubs, invertebrates, especially caterpillars, in breeding season. In spring and summer, forages mainly in woodland trees, in autumn and winter, in hedges and on ground.




This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 4,800,000-8,300,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from]




From first half of April to end of July in Britain, laying begins last April or early May in former USSR, March-April in Greece, Italy and Spain, end March to end May in North Africa. In building Nest sites, prefers old, shrubby trees, especially oak and fruit trees. Nest is a bulky foundation of dry twigs, distinct from 2nd layer of thin twiglets and blades of grass in which cup with soft plant matter is shaped. Cup shallow, composed of roots and strong grass, twigs, dry moss, and lichen. 4-5 eggs are laid with an incubation period of 11-13 days, done by female only.




Sedentary to migratory, northern populations migrate more than southern ones. Juveniles migrate more than adults, and females more than males. Migration mostly diurnal, but nocturnal also reported. European migrants head between West and South, wintering chiefly within breeding range, numbers fluctuate markedly from year to year. Makes local feeding movements in wide variety of directions. Longer movements are probably associated primarily with food availability.


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Taken on March 4, 2016