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Common Rosefinch

Common Rosefinch

Key facts

Scientific name: Carpodacus erythrinus
Status: Scarce migrant, occasional breeder

Breeding birds: 0-4 pairs

UK passage: 146 birds

Conservation status: Not assessed

Family: Finches

Length: 14 – 15 cm
Wingspan: 22 – 26 cm
Weight: 21 – 27 g

What do common rosefinches look like?

Adult male common rosefinches in breeding plumage have a brown mantle, back, lesser coverts, scapulars, and uppertail coverts with a red tinge and pale edges on the feathers. The rump ranges from pink to deep red depending on the bird’s age. On the upperwing the median and greater coverts are dark brown with pale edges and pale pink tips which form two wing bars. The primary coverts and flight feathers are dark brown with pale edges and the primaries and secondaries have pale red tips. The notched tail is brown with reddish brown edges on the outer rectrices.

On the upperparts the centre of the breast is crimson, the sides of the breast and belly are pale buff with a slight pink wash, and the flanks are brown sometimes with a pink wash. The undertail coverts are pale buff.

On the head the forehead, crown, nape, hindneck, chin, and throat are bright red, the lores are grey-brown, and the cheeks and ear coverts are dark brown with a crimson wash. The bill is dark grey or brown with a yellow base on the lower mandible, the eyes are dark brown, and the legs are pinkish-brown.

Out of breeding plumage common rosefinches are much duller.

Female common rosefinches have grey-brown plumage with slight dark streaks on the upperparts and underparts, and two weak wing bars. The head is olive-brown with black streaks on the forehead and crown. The face is pale with a short white supercilium and a white crescent below the eye. They have a pale buff moustachial stripe and a daker malar stripe.

Juvenile common rosefinches are similar to adult females but with brighter plumage and more conspicuous wingbars and heavier streaks.

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How do common rosefinches breed?

Common rosefinches breed between May and August and produce 1 brood per season. The breed in loose colonies or solitary pairs. The nest is placed up to 2 metres off the ground in a bush or small tree, hidden amongst foliage or against the trunk. It is built by the female alone and is a cup-shaped structure made from twigs, stems, plant fibres, grass, plant down, moss, lichens, and hair, and lined with softer materials.

Common rosefinches lay 4-6 blue-green eggs with dark markings which are incubated by the female alone for 11-14 days. She is sometimes fed by the male while she is at the nest. The chick are fed by both parents and leave the nest 10-13 days after hatching but are not yet able to fly and rely on their parents for another 2 weeks.

What do common rosefinches eat?

Common rosefinches eat mainly seeds, shoots, and buds, as well as fruit, berries, and nectar. They will also supplement their diet with insects and spiders particularly during breeding season.

Common Rosefinch

Where can I see common rosefinches?

Common rosefinches can be seen in the UK between May and October. Look out for them on the coasts of southern and eastern England, eastern Scotland, and the Northern Isles.

What do common rosefinches sound like?

Alain Malengreau/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Only younger common rosefinches are likely to be found in the UK which is why it’s rare to see a very brightly coloured specimen.

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