Blue Chaffinch (Fringilla teydea)

Blue Chaffinch

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Fringillidae | [latin] Fringilla teydea | [UK] Blue Chaffinch | [FR] Pinson bleu | [DE] Teydefink | [ES] Pinzon Azul | [NL] Blauwe Vink

Subspecies

Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Fringilla teydea AF Canary Islands
Fringilla teydea polatzeki
Fringilla teydea teydea

Physical charateristics

Small bird (L 15 cm), uniformly blue coloured, more dark upperparts than belly. The Blue Chaffinch inhabits Canarian pine woods almost exclusively, at altitude which range from 700 and 2,000 m, and include both natural and old replanted forest. The species seems to prefer areas with and undergrowth of the shrub (Chamaecytisus proliferus). The diet is mainly seeds and insects. Resident.

wingspan min.: 26 cm wingspan max.: 30 cm
size min.: 16 cm size max.: 17 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 17 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 2  

Range

Africa : Canary Islands

Habitat

The area of pinewoods on Gran Canaria has decreased due to various factors especially past felling of trees and forest fires. They currently cover approximately 10,875 ha. leafforestation has been going on since the 1940s and Blue Chaffinches have colonised areas planted with Canary pine where these fall within the area of the tree’s natural distribution.

Chaffinches will occasionally feed outside the pinewoods during severe weather conditions, and during the breeding season they are found in high pinewood areas with a high proportion of broom in the undergrowth where they search for insects and seeds.

Reproduction

Birds on Tenerife pair up in April and breeding lasts until the end of July or the beginning of August. The nest is built by the female, usually located in pine trees or sometimes heath Erica arborea or laurel Laurus azorica. Nests are formed from pine needles and branches of broom Chamaecytisus proliferus and lined with moss, feathers, grasses and rabbit hair. The clutch generally consists of two eggs; in the case of the Tenerife subspecies they are laid during the first fortnight in June although in the south they may be laid as early as April; in Gran Canaria eggs are laid in the last half of April and the first half of June. The female incubates for 14-16 days. The chicks are blind and covered in down on hatching and are fed by both the male and the female. The chicks remain in the nest 17-18 days.

Feeding habits

Canary pine seeds constitute the main food source. The birds feed both in the trees and on the ground, extracting the seeds from the half-open cones by breaking them open with their thick, powerful bills. They occasionally feed on other types of fruit and also eat a large amount of insects (mainly nocturnal butterflies and some beetles) taken from cracks in pine bark. In the breeding season the birds eat more insects and larvae than at other times, probably due to the rich source of protein that this provides for the chicks.

Conservation

This species is classified as Near Threatened because it has an extremely small range which is declining, and a moderately small population which has declined in the past ten years. However, the range is not yet severely fragmented or restricted to few locations. For these reasons, the species is classified as Near Threatened.
Fringilla teydea is endemic to Europe, where it has a very small range (<500 km2) on the Canary Islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Its European breeding population is small (as few as 1,000 pairs), but was stable between 1970-1990. The species remained stable overall during 1990-2000, with the decline of the small Gran Canaria population outweighed by the stable trend of the larger Tenerife population. Nevertheless, its population size renders it susceptible to the risks affecting small populations, and consequently this globally Near Threatened species is evaluated as Rare.
This endemic finch of the Canary islands is strictly dependent on the native pine (Pinus canariensis) forests of Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Its total population is estimated at 1000-1500 breeding pairs, but the species is nearly extinct on Gran Canaria following destruction of its habitat.The Blue Chaffinch comprises two subspecies one found on Tenerife (nominate teydea) and the other on Gran Canaria (subspecies polatzeki). The Gran Canaria birds are up to 10% smaller and with duller plumage.
Blue Chaffinch status Near Threatened

Migration

Sedentary, making only very local movements in forests of pine. Occurs at high altitude even at times of deep snow cover, though probably makes limited altitudinal movements then. Recorded occasionally above treeline, and exceptionally at some distance from usual range.

Distribution map

Blue Chaffinch distribution range map

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