|Copyright: Ronald HUGHES (boxcorner) (2)|
|Date Taken: 2009-03-19|
|Camera: Nikon Coolpix 8800|
|Photo Version: Original Version|
|Date Submitted: 2009-05-08 11:31|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)|
The Hawfinch is a passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae. As its closest living relatives are the Evening Grosbeak (C. vespertinus) from North America and the Hooded Grosbeak (C. abeillei) from Central America especially Mexico, the Hawfinch is sometimes also known as European Grosbeak.
This bird breeds across Europe and temperate Asia. It is mainly resident in Europe, but many Asian birds migrate further south in the winter. It is a rare vagrant to the western islands of Alaska.
Deciduous or mixed woodland with large trees, especially Hornbeam, is favoured for breeding, including parkland. It builds its nest in a bush or tree, laying 2-7 eggs. The food is mainly seeds and fruit kernels, especially those of cherries, which it cracks with its powerful bill.
This large finch species does not form large flocks outside the breeding season, and is usually seen as a pair or small group.
The 16.5-18 cm long Hawfinch is a bulky bull-headed bird, which appears very short-tailed in flight. Its head is orange-brown with a black eyestripe and bib, and a massive bill, which is black in summer but paler in winter. The upper parts are dark brown and the underparts orange.
The white wing bars and tail tip are striking in flight. The sexes are similar. The call is a hard chick. The song of this unobtrusive bird is quiet and mumbled.
I noticed that Hawfinches sometimes visited our garden, during the winter, to feed on seeds that had fallen to the ground from our bird table. I tried to photograph them through an open window several times, but they startled easily so I was unsuccessful. I eventually managed to take this photograph through the glass of the window by tucking myself well out of sight and relying upon the folding LCD screen to focus.
According to 'Collins Bird Guide' ISBN 0-00-219728-6 the Hawfinches' powerful bill is capable of generating over 50kg force, enough to crack cherry kernels!
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