Finches are a family of songbirds. They are found all over the world except Antarctica, Australia and New Zealand, and some smaller islands. In total there are about 200 different species of finches. In German-speaking countries, they are among the most common birds with around 10 to 15 different species. The chaffinch is the most common here.
Finches are medium-sized birds. They measure 9 to 26 centimeters from the head to the base of the tail feathers. They weigh between six grams and one hundred grams each. Finches have a strong beaks because they eat a lot of grains. They can even crack open a cherry pit with their beak.
How do finches live?
Finches like to live in coniferous or deciduous forests, especially on beech trees. Some species prefer parks and gardens. Other species live in savannas, on the tundra, or even in swampy areas. They prefer to eat seeds, fruit, or buds that sprout in spring. They mainly feed their young animals with insects, spiders, and earthworms.
Few finches in the north are migratory. This includes in particular the brambling, which spends the winter with us. Most finches always stay in the same place. The nest is mainly built by the females and they lay three to five eggs in it. They need about two weeks to brood. Both parents feed the young. The young leave the nest after two to four weeks. Most finches breed twice a year, more often in the tropics.
Finches have many enemies. Martens, squirrels, and domestic cats like to eat eggs or young birds. But also birds of prey like the sparrow hawk or the kestrel often strike. With us, the finches are not endangered. There are extinct species, but each of them only inhabited a single small island. When a certain disease appeared there, sometimes the whole species was wiped out.
What are the most important finch species in our country?
At the top is the chaffinch. In Switzerland, it is even the most common bird of all. He looks for his food mainly on the ground. At the feeding board, too, he mainly collects from the ground what other birds have dropped. The female builds the nest on her own, pads it very carefully, and then lay four to six eggs in it.
Only the female incubates, for about two weeks. The male also helps with feeding. Many females migrate south in winter. That is why there are mainly males here in winter.
Brambling breeds in northern Europe and Siberia and spends the winter with us. They only live near beeches because they feed on the beechnuts. The nutlets are called beechnuts, i.e. the seeds of the beech trees. Brambling arrives in large flocks so that the sky is almost black.
We also see the greenfinch quite often. He likes to feed on grain grains in the fields. Because people often feed birds, the greenfinch also lives in towns and villages. It has a particularly strong beak and can therefore eat a lot of things that other finches cannot crack. Greenfinches build their nests in hedges and bushes. The female lays five to six eggs and incubates them herself for two weeks. The male also helps with feeding the young animals.