Coccothraustes coccothraustes Linnaeus, 1758 ♂
Common names: Hawfinch [En], Grosbec casse-noyaux [Fr], Appelvink [Nl], Kernbeißer [De], Frosone [It], Picogordo común [Es], Κοκκοθραύστης [Gr], Bayağı kocabaş [Tu]
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
Lithotopos, SERRES ● Greece
Description: The hawfinch has an overall length of 18 cm, with a wingspan that ranges from 29 to 33 cm. It is a robust bird with a thick neck, large round head and a wide, strong conical beak with a metallic appearance. It has short pinkish legs with a light hue and it has a short tail. It has brown eyes. The overall colour is light brown, its head having an orange hue to it. Its eyes have a black circle around them, extending to its beak and surrounding it at its edge. Its throat is also black. The sides of its neck, as well as the back of its neck, are gray. The upper side of its wings are a deep black colour. The wings also have three stripes from approximately the middle till their sides: a white, a brown and a blue stripe.
The plumage of the female is slightly paler than that of the male.
There are six recognised subspecies:
• C. c. coccothraustes Linnaeus, 1758 – Europe to central Siberia and northern Mongolia
• C. c. buvryi Cabanis, 1862 – northwest Africa
• C. c. nigricans Buturlin, 1908 – southern Ukraine, the Caucasus, northeast Turkey and northern Iran
• C. c. humii Sharpe, 1886 – southern Kazakhstan, eastern Uzbekistan and northeastern Afghanistan
• C. c. schulpini Johansen, H, 1944 – southeastern Siberia, northeast China and Korea
• C. c. japonicus Temminck & Schlegel, 1848 – Kamchatka Peninsula, Sakhalin and Kuril Islands and Japan
Biology: The hawfinch is a shy species, and therefore difficult to observe and study. It spends most of the day on top of high branches, above all during breeding season.
The hawfinch feeds primarily on hard seeds from trees, as well as fruit seeds, which it obtains with the help of its strong beak with accompanying jaw muscles. It can break through the seeds of cherries and plums. Other common sources of food include pine seeds, berries, sprouts and the occasional caterpillar and beetle. They can also break through olive seeds. The bird is known to eat in groups, especially during the winter.
Hawfinches are monogamous with a pair-bond that sometimes persists from one year to the next.
Hawfinches engage in an elaborate series of courtship routines. The two birds stand apart facing one another and reach out to touch their bills. The male displays to the female by standing erect, puffing out the feathers on his head, neck and chest and allowing his wings to droop forward. He then makes a deep bow. The male will also lower a wing and moves it in a semi-circular arc revealing his wing bars and modified wing feathers.
The breeding pairs are usually solitary but they occasionally breed in loose groups. The nest is normally located high in a tree on a horizontal branch with easy access from the air. The male chooses the site of the nest and builds a layer of dry twigs. After a few days the female takes over. The nest is untidy and is formed of a bulky twig base and a shallow cup lined with roots, grasses and lichens. The clutch is normally 4-5 eggs, with purple brown and pale grey squiggles on a background that can be buff, grey-green or pale blueish. The eggs are incubated for 11–13 days by the female. The nestlings are fed by both parents who regurgitate seeds but also bring mouthfuls of caterpillars. They fledge after 12–14 days and the young birds become independent of their parents around 30 days later. The parents generally only raise a single brood each year.
Habitat: This species prefers broadleaved forest, in particular oak-hornbeam, and also mixed forest. Besides more natural forests it also occupies parks and gardens, Prunus (cherry) orchards and olive groves in some areas of its range. In the drier southern parts of its range it inhabits steppe-woodlands and thorn thickets. It breeds up to 1,300 m in central Europe and up to 2,200 m asl in the Caucasus (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997, Calladine and Morrison 2010, Clement and Christie 2016).
Distribution: The hawfinch is distributed in the whole of Europe, Eastern Asia (including North Japan), the North of Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia). It is not found in Iceland, parts of the British Isles, Scandinavia nor certain Mediterranean islands. In Asia it can be found in the Caucasus, the North of Iran, Afghanistan, Turkistan, Siberia, Manchuria and North Korea.
The hawfinch is a partial migrant, with northern flocks migrating towards the South during the winter.