bullfinch defined in 1930 yearbullfinch - Bullfinch;
bullfinch - Crown, throat, region round the beak, wings, and tail lustrous purple-black; upper part of the back bluish ash; ear-coverts, sides of the neck, breast, and belly red; lower tail-coverts dull white; a broad buff and grey band across the wing. Length, six and a quarter inches.
The bullfinch stands out among British finches with a strange distinctness. He is gaily coloured, and the arrangement of colours is a striking one - glossy black, blue-grey, and pure white above, and a fine red beneath. This is described in the books as brick- red '; and there is no doubt that, among the thousand and more shades of the less vivid red seen in bricks taken fresh from the kiln, the exact tint of the bullfinch might be matched. In the same way you could match the most delicate floral red - that which we see in the spikes of the red horse-chestnut, and the almond blossom, and the briar rose. The earthy, uniform red of weathered bricks is not the colour of our bird. The beauty of such a tint as that of the bullfinch can be best appreciated where, indeed, it is most commonly seen, amidst the verdure of clustering leaves; for greens and reds, pleasing in themselves, ever make the most agreeable contrasts among colours.
In its figure, too, this bird is very singular among the finches: his curiously arched beak gives him the look of a diminutive hawk in a gay plumage.
The bullfinch is greatly persecuted by gardeners on account of the mischief he is supposed to do, for he has the habit of feeding on the flower-buds of fruit-trees in winter and spring. On the othei hand, he is greatly esteemed as a cage-bird, and the bird-catchers are ever on the watch for it. But the effect in both cases is pretty much the same, since the hatred that slays and the love that makes captive are equally disastrous to the species. There is no doubt that it is diminishing in this country, and that it is now a rare bird in most districts. Fortunately, it has a wide distribution in Great Britain: in Ireland, where it is said to be rare, I have found it not uncommon, and tamer than in England. It may be increasing there, which would not be strange in a country where even the magpie is permitted to exist, and birds generally are regarded with kindlier feelings than in this country.
The bullfinch does not often go to the ground to feed; he gets most of his food on trees and bushes - insects, buds, fruit, and seeds of various kinds. He inhabits woods, plantations, and thickets, and is often seen in thick hedges and in the tangled vegetation growing by the side of streams. "Where he is not persecuted he is a tame and rather sedentary bird, and will allow a person to approach within a dozen yards before leaving his perch. His call and alarm note is a low, piping, musical sound, very pleasant to hear. The male sings in the spring, and so, it is said, does the female; but his strain is short, and so feeble that it can be heard only at a distance of a few yards.
The nest is built during the last half of April in a holly or yew, or other dense, dark bush or tree, or in a thick hedge. It is unlike the nest of any other finch, being outwardly a platform-shaped structure made of interwoven twigs, with a cup-shaped nest in the centre, formed of fine rootlets, the rim of the cup projecting above the platform it is built on. The eggs are four to six, greenish blue in ground-colour, spotted and sometimes streaked with dark purplish brown, and blotched with pinkish brown.
Bullfinches pair for life, and at all seasons of the year male and female are seen together; if any young are reared, they usually remain in company with the parent birds during the autumn and winter months.
Nearly allied to the common bullfinch are two beautiful birds which have a place in our list of species. One of these is the rosy bullfinch (Carpodacus erythrinus), of which two or three stragglers have been found in England; it breeds in Finland, and is found throughout the Russian Empire. The other is the pine grossbeak Pvnicola (enucleator), also a rare straggler to Britain from the north of Europe.
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