Northern Bullfinch

Wing bars in Males

Martin G.

Help requested- see below 🙂

male Northern Bullfinch, near Pasvik River on Norway/ Russian birder, March 2013. Birds in this area gave several call types including trumpeting but wing bar broad grey 'saw toothed' and flat topped. This one also has some pink feathering in the grey upperparts-  perhaps diagnostic of Northern- but I shouldn't be telling you that- so keep it to yourself- saving for next book. Martin Garner

male Northern Bullfinch, near Pasvik River on Norway/ Russian birder, March 2013. Birds in this area gave several call types including trumpeting but wing bar broad grey ‘saw toothed’ and flat topped. This one also has some pink feathering in the grey upperparts- perhaps diagnostic of Northern- but I shouldn’t be telling you that- so keep it to yourself- saving for next book. Martin Garner

I have mentioned this one briefly before but I thought I’d pitch again…

I am currently writing on the subject of Northern Bullfinch ID (nominate pyrrhula) versus the continental europoea and British pileata taxa. I found the male featured below along with 2 other Northern Bullfinches at Whitby, North Yorkshire in late October 2004 (the last big invasion year). Not the first or only Northern Bullfinches I have seen. But not seen another quite like it…

male Northern Bullfinch, Whitby, North Yorkshire October 2004. Martin Garner

male Northern Bullfinch, Whitby, North Yorkshire October 2004. Martin Garner

 

A big fat, chunky bad ass. Pink and pale grey. Beauty. Feeding at point-blank tame range right next to a footpath.

The curious feature I am asking about and trying to make sense of is the white wing bar. You can clearly see instead of having a flat upper edge to the white tips of the curved, then are curved with ‘U’ shaped edge and white bleeding up the outer webs of the feather. It becomes more pronounced on the inner  greater coverts which are slightly obscured by overhanging grey scapular feathers.

 

male Northern Bullfinch, Whitby, North Yorkshire October 2004. Martin Garner

male Northern Bullfinch, Whitby, North Yorkshire October 2004. Martin Garner

This pattern certainly exists in the far eastern taxon cassini (readily apparent on museum specimens). I don’t think this bird is from the core range of cassini. However I can’t easily explain where the pattern originates. Most Northerns I have seen and researched show usually broad wing bars with straight upper edge, sometimes ‘saw-toothed pattern’ but not with the white U shapes.

I wonder if this is a pattern is may be broadly related to intergradation with cassini which occurs in the Siberian population but much closer to / within the Western Palearctic?

Can anyone elaborate or share any more light?

Or indeed any more insights in those trumpeting calls or other variants in calls. I have heard trumpeting Northern near the Pasvik river on the Norwegian/Russian border give a variety of calls including ‘tooting’.

 

male Northern Bullfinch, Whitby, North Yorkshire October 2004. Martin Garner

male Northern Bullfinch, Whitby, North Yorkshire October 2004. Martin Garner

5 thoughts on “Northern Bullfinch

  1. Andy Adcock

    Hi Martin,
    we’ve had an irruption this year here in St Petersburg, Russia and a paper I just found, links irruptions of this species’ like others to bumper Rowan berry years.

    We’ve also had other species that you would expect with the berry crop e.g Pine Grosbeaks and Waxwings plus many Fieldfares have overwintered.

    I have a couple of pics of the Bullfinch , a male is on surfbirds with the address of the paper and I’ll post a female later.
    http://www.surfbirds.com/gallery/display.php?gallery=gallery17

    I do have other pics showing wing-bar on the male but the ‘saw edged’ wing-bar is far more apparent on the female and I had pondered it being a mixed flock but they all call the same and there is no perceptible size difference?

    Cheers, Andy

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  2. Вадим Ивушкин

    If you want to understand the bullfinches, read more literature, especially from Russia and one that is published since 1800. Any problems, symptoms, etc. have already been discussed previously. If deal with the wing band, it is not a systematic features, as it varies with age and idividually! Kamchatsky bullfinch (Cassini) distribution is limited (it is well monitored by its colls). And according to our data: from Scandinavia to Yakutia, only by his voice, bullfinch (nominate subspecies) can be divided into 3 types, their localization is almost defined and this will soon be published. My email – pyrrhula@mail.ru

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