Madeiran Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs maderensis Sharpe, 1888

Order: Passeriformes Family: Fringillidae Status: Breeding in Madeira

Madeiran Chaffinch Fringilla maderensis

Recommended birdwatching tours to watch this bird

Half-day birdwatching
Full-day birdwatching

Madeiran Chaffinch Field ID Keys

Shape & Size

A medium size finch with a conical medium-sized bill and broad wings.

Colour Pattern

There are marked differences between the sexes, with the male being more brightly coloured than the female which is rather subdued in colour. Both have white wing bars and white, broad tail-sides. Male has a pale orange chest with a bluish crown and greenish-brown back. The female has a cream chest and brownish back.


A typical bird for picnic tables in forestry areas in Madeira where it is normally tame. Its flight is direct, quite quick and undulating. During the flight it momentarily glides with wings closed.


This endemic species (previously known as a subspecies of the European Chaffinch) is only found in Madeira island, at rather medium to high altitudes, being absent from the other islands in the archipelago.
Madeira Chaffinch is found mainly in woodlands, both indigenous and introduced forests. In the winter it is also found in cultivated areas, near rural housing.

Distinction from similar species

The Madeira Chaffinch is quite distinct from the European chaffinch, specially the males whose colours are completely different. Females are more alike, mostly all brown being hard to distinguish the subspecies. As for other species, only the female Brambling might have some similarity with the female Chaffinch though the first one has an all dark tail and less white on the wings.

Fringilla coelebs Biometrics

Wingspan: 25 - 28 cm (Hume, 2002)
Total length: 14.5 cm (Beaman & Madge, 2011)
Weight: 19 - 23 g (Hume, 2002)

Other Bird Facts

Seasonality in Madeira: All year
Breeding: The cup-shaped nest with an inner layer of feathers accommodates 4 to 5 eggs in a single brood between April to July.
Diet: Takes seeds, shoots and berries from trees but also some caterpillar and other insects from foliage.

Until 2023 the Madeira Chaffinch was considered one of five endemic subspecies of Common Chaffinch in Macaronesia: the Madeira one Fringilla coelebs maderensis, one in the Azores Fringilla coelebs morelettis and three on the Canary Islands Fringilla coelebs canariensis, Fringilla coelebs palmae and Fringilla coelebs ombriosa. But since 2023 it was widely agreed that the Macaronesian Chaffinches should be elevated to full species, so they became: Madeira Chaffinch Fringilla maderensis, Azores Chaffinch Fringilla moreletti Canary Islands Chaffinch Fringilla canariensis and the Canary Islands Chaffinch having 4 different subspecies: F. canariensis canariensis on Tenerife and La Gomera, F. canariensis palmae on La Palma, F. canariensis ombriosa on El Hierro, and F. canariensis bakeri on Gran Canaria. (Recuerda et al, 2021)
So from 2023 on Madeira has 4 endemic bird species, all exclusive to the island.


Madeira local status by Correia-Fagundes et al, 2021: Very Common breeding bird
Madeira local status by Romano et al, 2010: Very Common breeding bird
Madeira local status by Zino et al, 1995: Very Common breeding bird
Conservation status by the IUCN Red List Categories, 2013: Least Concern ver 3.1

Name of this species in other languages

Portuguese: Tentilh√£o
German: Buchfink-maderensis
Dutch: Madeira Vink
Swedish: Madeira Bofink
Danish: Madeira Bogfinke
Finish: Madeira Peippo
Norwegian: Madeira Bokfink
Spanish: Pinzón de Madera
French: Pinson des arbres de Madère
Italian: Fringuello de Madeira
Polish: Madeira Zińôba
Slovak: Pinka madeirsk√°
Czech: Pńõnkava obecn√°

Madeiran ChaffinchFringilla maderensis

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