Written and Illustrated by P. J. S. Chatterton

Specialist Breeder and Judge of Poultry, Pigeons and Cage Birds; Judge at the "Grand International Show, Crystal Palace," Membre Societe des Aviailteurs Francais; Vice-president Poultry Club; Hon. Sec. Yokohama Club; on the Committee of Middlesex Columbarian Society; ' Indian Game Club, etc., etc.

The Chaffinch - Bramblefinch - Hawfinch - Greenfinch - Their Habits and Treatment in Captivity

The next member of the Finch family to be considered is the Chaffinch (Fringilla coslebs). This is one of the best known and most beautiful of birds, especially in the springtime, when its plumage is very brilliant and the beak, which in winter becomes whitish, is blue.

The plumage of the hen is marked in a similar manner to the cock, but her breast is yellowish-grey with a greenish tinge, and her back yellowish-brown. The nest, which is one of the prettiest pieces of bird architecture, is composed of mosses and lichen and lined with hair and wool, the outside being covered with lichen in the same manner as the tree on which it is built.

The eggs (four or five) are also exceedingly pretty, of a greenish-blue colour With red spots, having a dark-brown centre. Chaffinches usually nest about the middle of April.

When used to confinement chaffinches are easily kept; in an aviary they are apt to be quarrelsome, since usually each wants to be "the master." They are very active birds, and destroy a number of insects, which makes them welcome in a garden.

Bramble finch (Fringilla monti-fringilla), sometimes called the mountain finch or brambling, is quite a hardy bird, and breeds in northern countries, only visiting this country in the late autumn and winter months. The plumage is extremely pretty, with very effective markings, and undergoes considerable changes. The plumage changes considerably. In the spring it becomes more intense in colour. In winter the feathers on the head, neck, and back have brown edges, whilst in the breeding season they become jet black.



The largest member of the finch family. A handsome bird, but very destructive in the vegetable garden

In shape and style the bramblefinch closely resembles the chaffinch, and the cocks have the same habit of raising the feathers on the head.

The nest is found in May.

The bramblefinch takes kindly to confinement, and, although a poor songster, makes a very pretty and interesting pet.

Hawfinch (Coccothraustes vulgaris), also known as the Black-throated Grosbeak, is by far the largest of our finches. It is a robust and thickly-built bird with a short tail, and has a rather short and very powerful bill, with which it can crack cherry and plum-stones; it also feeds considerably on haw-berries, from which no doubt it derives its name.

It is fairly common in Surrey and Kent and in most of the southern counties.

Birds of the year are bold and venturesome and do a considerable amount of damage in the gardens of Surrey and Kent, especially to pea crops, of which they are very fond. With their powerful beaks they practically crunch up a pod full of the choicest peas in a very short space of time.

The old birds are particularly shy and are seldom seen; they do not visit the gardens like the young birds, but usually keep to the wooded districts. The adult plumage of the hawfinch is very beautiful and made up of delicate tints of brown-grey, reddish-buff, black and white; some of the feathers on the wings are of an intense black, having steel-blue lustre and in shape closely resembung a battle-axe. The plumage of the young birds is much more sombre in colour.

The nest is built towards the end of April, very often in a thickly-grown hawthorn bush; it is rather shallow and built of twigs and lichen and lined with fine roots and hair, in which four or five eggs are laid of an olive-green colour, spotted and streaked with dark-grey.

The hawfinch is a poor songster, its note being a long whistle which is repeated several times.

Greenfinch (Ligurinus chloris)

Greenfinch (Ligurinus chloris) is fairly common throughout the country. It is large and thickly-built, and has a strong beak, somewhat resembling that of the hawfinch.

A bramblefinch and a greenfinch   two members of the Fringillinae family which flourish in confinement

A bramblefinch and a greenfinch - two members of the Fringillinae family which flourish in confinement

The plumage is rather sombre in colour.

The greenfinch is not a great favourite as a cage-bird. As a songster it does not rank very high, although some specimens sing very much better than others.

The nest is found about the end of April, and is built in rather a loose manner. The eggs, four to six in number, are of a white or greenish-white colour spotted with grey and brown.


The chaffinch in the wild state, in addition to eating all kinds of small seeds, catches a large quantity of different kinds of insect, especially in the spring. With these they largely feed their young.

In confinement they should be fed in a similar manner to the goldfinch, and in addition they will greatly enjoy a mealworm or two occasionally.

Green food, such as lettuce, watercress, chickweed, groundsel, etc., should be given them fresh daily, especially in the summer time.

Freshwater daily is very essential for all kinds of birds, and the water vessel must be thorough-1y wa shed out before being refilled.

Both the bramble-finch and the greenfinch are very similar in their diet to the chaf-finch, and should be fed accordingly. Bramblefinches also like mealworms, flies, and caterpillars (not hairy ones); they are also very partial to beech-nuts.

Hawfinches in their wild state live on the berries of juniper and white-thorn, cherries and plums, the stones of which they can easily crack with their powerful beaks, and they are very fond of the kernels they contain; also beech-nuts and various seeds.

In confinement they should have German rape, hemp, linseed, some sunflower seeds occasionally, beech-nuts, also hawthorn berries when obtainable, and they will enjoy some green peas in the season.

For the chaffinch, bramblefinch, and greenfinch, a cage of the same size as that recommended for the goldfinch will prove suitable. The cage for the hawfinch should be of the same design, but slightly larger.

A description and treatment of diseases of birds will be found in a special article on the subject under the title of "Diseases of Canaries and other Cage Birds."