Birds: Bullfinch (Corcrán coille), Pyrrhula pyrrhula
A widespread bird in Ireland, the handsome Bullfinch is with us year-round. At home in woodland and dense hedgerows, it will often visit gardens to feed on wild berries, seeds, etc., though it will only fly to bird tables on rare occasions. Its favourite foods are tree and flower buds, which in the past served to make them very unpopular with orchard owners.
Named for its characteristic heavy build and thick "bullish" neck, the Bullfinch is a stocky bird. At around 15cm in length it is roughly the same size as a House Sparrow, though it appears much plumper. Its distinctive thick, stubby black bills are the perfect tools both for shearing off tasty flower buds and crushing tough seeds. Males have a glossy black cap, face, wings and tail, a pale bar on each wing, and a striking white rump patch, pencil-grey back and beautiful reddish-rose breast and belly. Females look similar, save that the breast and belly are a greyish brown colour. Young birds are browner overall, and lack the black cap.
The Bullfinch is one of the most modest-sounding of all Irish birds: their call is just a simple, quiet "peu-peu" with a slightly melancholic air. They are mostly encountered in pairs, even outside the breeding season. Larger groups also sometimes congregate in winter wherever feeding opportunities are good.
More To join BirdWatch Ireland, please call 01 2819878, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.birdwatchireland.ie. All new members will receive a special wildlife DVD. Village readers can receive a free series of wallcharts by writing to: Village Bird Chart Offer, BirdWatch Ireland, PO Box 12, Greystones, Co Wicklow