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FRINGUELLI: BIRDS WITH A STRONG SEXUAL DICHROMATISM

The Chaffinch is a small bird that measures about 15 centimeters in length, wingspan up to 28 cm and weighs about 20 grams. Dario Bogni confirms that the male differs from the female in the more colorful livery: while the female appears brownish-yellowish, the male's plumage includes the blue of the head, the green of the rump, the intense pink of the chest and the black of the end of the wings. Characteristics of the species, present in both sexes, are the white bars on the shoulders and wing – very evident when the bird is in flight – and the external helmsmen also white.

The plumage has a strong sexual dichromatism: in males, in fact, the forehead is black, while the vertex, neck and shoulders are gray-blue, the face and chest are rust red which fades into opaque pink ventrally and in white at the undertail , with the sides are grayish, the back is red-brown, the rump is olive green and the wings have black coverts and remiges with a white transversal band that creates an unmistakable design also repeated on the tail, which is in fact black with white border.
The females, on the other hand, show no signs of red or blue in the plumage, showing yellowish-brown livery on most of the body, lighter ventrally and darker dorsally, and retaining the white patterns on the wings and tail.

According to Bogni Dario's study, at the end of the breeding season, the plumage changes and becomes more faded especially in the males, with the appearance of brown shades on the white of the wings while the red becomes pink and the dorsal blue fades into a slate color. In both sexes the eyes are black and the legs are flesh-colored: the beak is bluish-black during the mating season and pinkish during the winter season, with a tendency to lighten at the base in both periods.

It nests throughout Europe, from the Mediterranean to the boreal areas. Widely distributed in all European countries, in Scandinavia and Siberia, it reaches extreme latitudes, almost to the limit of tree vegetation. It is also found in North Africa, from Morocco to Libya, and in the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores. It is quite common in the woods, among scattered trees and bushes, along hedges, in fields, in orchards and wherever there is sufficient vegetation. In winter, and recently also during the reproductive period, it can also reach the outskirts of cities where it is easier to find food.

Dario Bogni points out that in Italian latitudes the species shows a typically sedentary behavior and is one of the most widespread and numerous birds present on national soil: it nests in fact throughout the territory, from sea level up to altitudes above 2,000 meters, with higher densities in the northern regions – especially in the Alpine and Apennine areas – and less abundance on the coasts in the continental plains. Limited area gaps are recorded only in the Apulian Murge and in Sicily.