Hawfinch/Coccothraustes coccothraustes - Adult + Juvenile
L 16½-18 cm. Breeds in deciduous and mixed woods, preferring mature lofty deciduous with plenty of oak, hornbeam, beech, ash and elm. Also attracted to fruit trees, especially cherries, kernels of which it cracks with its powerful bill (can generate over 50 kg force!). Diet also includes insects. Very wary and shy and difficult time up in canopy or seen flying fast high up between woodland Usually nests well up in deciduous tree, against trunk or in fork, in fairly exposed site.
IDENTIFICATION: A rather big finch with totally distinctive propor has very powerful, triangular bill, big head and thick neck, but short tail. (Size of head due to powerful jaw muscles; the Hawfinch is a flying pair of nut-crackers!). Dominant colours are rusty and grey embellishments. Bill in summer greyish in winter ivory-white or pale yellow primaries with club-shaped extensions. Sexes similar, but separable by male having all-black remiges, while female has an ash In flight, shows conspicuous broad white wing tail is white-tipped. - Juvenile: Breast greyish dark.
VOICE: Has a very hard and sharp clicking ‘pix!’ with an almost elec quality, or like the sound made by jabbing a spike into solid granite; with a bit of practice easy to recognize and distinguish from e.g. Robin’s ticking ‘tic’; often repeated at slow pace in undulating flight (one ‘pix!’ on each rise). Besides this call, has more anonymous ‘zrri’ and ‘zih’ which are easily drowned in the varied sounds from the woodland’s Chaffinches, Spotted Flycatchers, thrushes and others. Song a rather quiet, stumbling series of ‘zih’ and ‘zrri’ notes, rather hard to make out.