[order] Passeriformes | [family] Fringillidae | [latin] Carduelis flavirostris | [UK] Twite | [FR] Linotte ā bec jaune | [DE] Berghänfling | [ES] Pardillo de Pico Amarillo | [IT] Fanello | [NL] Frater

Frater determination

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The twite Carduelis flavirostris is a small brown passerine bird in the finch family (Fringillidae) measuring around 14cm. Its heavily streaked plumage is much lighter on its underside, and darker above. Faint light coloured wing bars are visible, as is a pink rump that develops in males during the breeding season. Although similar to the linnet Carduelis cannabina, twite appear rounder with a longer tail. Like the linnet, it feeds entirely on seeds all year round and has a short stumpy beak.

In the breeding season, twite usually occur in treeless habitats particularly in the uplands, marginal uplands, sea coasts and cliffs. Upland habitats with heather, bracken and gorse are all popular breeding locations. M oorland edge habitat is often particularly attractive to them especially when in close proximity to farmland.

Carduelis flavirostris has a disjunct breeding distribution in Europe, occupying the north-west, the Caucasus and adjacent parts of Russia and Turkey, with Europe accounting for less than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is large (>170,000 pairs) representing just under half of the world population, and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom during 1990-2000, key populations in Norway and Turkey were stable, and the species remained stable overall.

Small seeds; perhaps a few invertebrates in breeding season. Forages on ground or on low herbs, sometimes in trees; in breeding season, in open areas of pasture and cultivation, by roadsides, at tideline, and by fresh water, feeding mainly on seeds of Compositae, Polygonaceae, and Caryophyllaceae; in winter, in fields, waste ground, allotments, by rivers, etc., and very commonly on coastal salt-marshes, mostly on Chenopodiaceae and Compositae. Feeds in smallish groups in breeding season, but at other times in large mixed flocks of several thousand with other seed-eaters, notably Linnet.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km˛. It has a large global population, including an estimated 340,000-1,500,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

Breeding in Britain: rather late breeder; in northern Scotland, eggs laid mid-May to mid-August, with peak around mid-June; in northern England, eggs laid from end of April, mostly late May and June. Norway: eggs laid from beginning of April to August; peak in central Norway mid-May to mid-June. Caucasus: eggs laid from about mid-May. 1-2 broods. Nest is on or very close to ground in heather, bilberry, bracken, grass tussocks, cotton-grass, rush, etc.; often under rock or in crevice and sometimes in dry-stone wall; also on cliff ledge with or without vegetation, and on young conifer in plantation. Nest: compact, well-built structure with thick, woven walls and deep cup; foundation of small twigs of heather, etc., roots, stalks, fronds of bracken, grass, moss, etc., lined thickly with felted mass of wool, hair, and sometimes feathers. Clutch: 4-6 (3-7) with an incubation period of 12-13 days and a fledging period of 11-12 days (10-15).

Migratory. Scandinavian populations winter in Western Europe. Migrate to lower elevations in winter.