Twite

Twite

Key facts

Scientific name: Linaria flavirostris

Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding birds: 10,000 pairs

Wintering birds: 100,000 – 150,000 birds

Conservation status: Red 

Family: Finches

Length: 14 cm

Wingspan: 22 – 25 cm

Weight: 13 – 18 g

Description

In breeding plumage adult male twites have olive-brown upperparts with black streaks and pale edges to the feathers, and a pink rump. The upperparts are a pale buff, and the sides of the breast and flanks are streaked with dark brown. The wings are dark brown with white edges to the inner primaries and tips of the secondaries. The tail is dark brown with white edges.

The head is brown with darker streaks and they have rufous lores and ear coverts and a dark supercilium. The cone-shaped bill is grey, the eyes are dark brown, and the legs and feet are black.

Out of breeding season twites are paler and the feather pattern is less distinctive, and the bill turns yellow. Females are similar to males but lack the pink rump. Juveniles are similar to females with darker beakers and males show pink on the rump.

Breeding

Twites start breeding fairly late in the season, usually around May. They locate their nests low on the ground in heather or in a dense bush. Both male and female collect nest materials although the female builds the nest alone which is constructed from rootlets and heather and lined with wool, hair, feathers, and thistle down.

Twites lay 5-6 pale greenish-blue eggs which have reddish brown speckles or splotches. They are incubated by the female alone for 13 days. Chicks fledge the nest 15-17 days after hatching.

Feeding

Twites feed almost exclusively on seeds such as dandelion or sorrel.

Twite

Where to see them

Twites can be seen all year round in the UK. During breeding season they are found on the upper moorlands of the Scottish Highlands, northern England, and north Wales. In winter they are joined by birds from the continent and move to the coast of eastern England where they can be found on salt marshes and fields.

Listen

Sonnenburg/xeno-canto

Did you know?

There are 10 recognised subspecies of twite. Two are found in the UK; the British twite (L. f. pipilans) and the Outer Hebridean twite (L. f. bensonorum).

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