Madeiran Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs maderensis Sharpe, 1888

Order: Passeriformes Family: Fringillidae Status: Breeding in Madeira

Madeiran Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs maderensis

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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 subspecies of the European Chaffinch is only found in Madeira island, at rather high altitude, being absent from the other islands in the archipelago.
Madeiran 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 subspecies of 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.

There are five endemic subspecies of Common Chaffinch in Macaronesia: one in Madeira 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. In the Canaries archipelago there is also an endemic species: Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea.


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: Vink
Swedish: Bofink
Danish: Bogfinke
Finish: Peippo
Norwegian: Bokfink
Spanish: Pinzón de Madera
French: Pinson des arbres de Madère
Italian: Fringuello comune
Polish: Zińôba
Slovak: Pinka madeirsk√°
Czech: Pńõnkava obecn√°

Madeiran ChaffinchFringilla coelebs maderensis

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