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The European greenfinch, or just greenfinch (Chloris chloris), is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae.

European greenfinch
European Greenfinch male female.jpg
Male above, female below
Song recorded in Tula Oblast, Russia
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Subfamily: Carduelinae
Genus: Chloris
C. chloris
Binomial name
Chloris chloris
  • Loxia chloris Linnaeus, 1758
  • Carduelis chloris (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Ligurinus chloris (Linnaeus)[2]
  • Coccothraustes chloris Flem.[3]
Nest with eggs in Nottinghamshire, England

This bird is widespread throughout Europe, north Africa and south west Asia. It is mainly resident, but some northernmost populations migrate further south. The greenfinch has also been introduced into both Australia and New Zealand. In Malta, it is considered a prestigious song bird, and it has been trapped for many years. It has been domesticated, and many Maltese people breed them. In Hungary, it is threatened.



The greenfich was described by Linnaeus in 1758 in the 10th edition of his Systema Naturae under the binomial name of Loxia chloris.[4][5] The specific epithet is from khloris, the Ancient Greek name for this bird, from khloros, "green".[6]

The finch family, Fringillidae, is divided into two subfamilies, the Carduelinae, containing around 28 genera with 141 species and the Fringillinae containing a single genus, Fringilla, with 3 species. The finch family are all seed-eaters with stout conical bills. They have similar skull morphologies, nine large primaries, twelve tail feathers and no crop. In all species the female bird builds the nest, incubates the eggs and broods the young. Fringilline finches raise their young almost entirely on arthropods while the cardueline finches raise their young on regurgitated seeds.[7]

A molecular phylogenetic study published in 2012 indicated that the greenfinches are not closely related to other members of the genus Carduelis.[8] They have therefore been placed in a separate genus Chloris.[9][10]

There are ten recognised subspecies:[9]

  • C. c. harrisoni Clancey, 1940 – Britain (except northern Scotland) and Ireland
  • C. c. chloris (Linnaeus, 1758) – northern Scotland, northern and central France and Norway to western Siberia
  • C. c. muehlei Parrot, 1905 – Serbia and Montenegro to Moldovia, Bulgaria and Greece
  • C. c. aurantiiventris (Cabanis, 1851) – southern Spain through southern Europe to western Greece
  • C. c. madaraszi Tschusi, 1911 – Corsica and Sardinia
  • C. c. vanmarli Voous, 1952 – northwestern Spain, Portugal and northwestern Morocco
  • C. c. voousi (Roselaar, 1993) – central Morocco and northern Algeria
  • C. c. chlorotica (Bonaparte, 1850) – south-central Turkey to northeastern Egypt
  • C. c. bilkevitchi Zarudny, 1911 – southern Ukraine, the Caucasus and northeastern Turkey to northern Iran and southwestern Turkmenistan
  • C. c. turkestanica Zarudny, 1907 – southern Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan and central Tajikistan


The greenfinch is 15 cm (5.9 in) long with a wing span of 24.5 to 27.5 cm (9.6 to 10.8 in). It is similar in size and shape to a house sparrow, but is mainly green, with yellow in the wings and tail. The female and young birds are duller and have brown tones on the back. The bill is thick and conical.[11] The song contains a lot of trilling twitters interspersed with wheezes, and the male has a "butterfly" display flight.

Behaviour and ecologyEdit

Woodland edges, farmland hedges and gardens with relatively thick vegetation are favoured for breeding.[12] It nests in trees or bushes, laying 3 to 6 Eggs.[13][14]

This species can form large flocks outside the breeding season, sometimes mixing with other finches and buntings. They feed largely on seeds, but also take berries.


Breeding season occurs in spring, starting in the second half of March, until June, with fledging young in early July. Incubation lasts about 13–14 days, by the female. Male feeds her at the nest during this period. Chicks are covered with thick, long, greyish-white down at hatching. They are fed on insect larvae by both adults during the first days, and later, by frequent regurgitated yellowish paste of seeds. They leave the nest about 13 days later but they are not able to fly. Usually, they fledge 16–18 days after hatching. This species produces two or three broods per year.[13][14]

In Australasia, the greenfinch's breeding season is from October to March.[15]

Predators and parasitesEdit

The protozoal parasite Trichomonas gallinae was known to infect pigeons and raptors but beginning in Britain in 2005, carcases of dead European greenfinches and common chaffinches were found to be infected with the parasite.[16] The disease spread and in 2008 infected carcases were found in Norway, Sweden and Finland and a year later in Germany. The spread of the disease is believed to have been mediated by chaffinches as large numbers of the birds breed in northern Europe and winter in Britain.[17] In Britain the number of infected carcases recovered each year declined after a peak in 2006. There was a reduction in the number of greenfinches from around 4.3 million to around 2.8 million but no significant decline in the overall number of chaffinches.[18] A similar pattern occurred in Finland where, after the arrival of the disease in 2008, there was a reduction in the number of greenfinches but only a small change in the number of chaffinches.[19]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Carduelis chloris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ For Ligurinus chloris see for instance Bonhote, J. Lewis (1907). Birds of Britain. illustrated by H.E. Dresser. London: Adam and Charles Black. pp. 114/5. OCLC 1451688.. John Gould uses the scientific name Ligurinus chloris for the greenfinch in his The Birds of Great Britain (vol. 3, 1873, plate 38).
  3. ^ In The Birds of Europe (vol. 3, 1837, plate 57) John Gould describes the "green grossbeak" (Coccothraustes chloris).
  4. ^ Paynter 1968, pp. 235–236.
  5. ^ Linnaeus (1758), p. 174.
  6. ^ Jobling 2010, p. 102.
  7. ^ Collar et al. (2010), pp. 440–441.
  8. ^ Zuccon, Dario; Prŷs-Jones, Robert; Rasmussen, Pamela C.; Ericson, Per G.P. (2012). "The phylogenetic relationships and generic limits of finches (Fringillidae)" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 62 (2): 581–596. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.10.002. PMID 22023825.
  9. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "Finches, euphonias". World Bird List Version 5.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  10. ^ Sangster, G.; et al. (October 2011). "Taxonomic recommendations for British birds: seventh report". Ibis. 153 (4): 883–892. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2011.01155.x.
  11. ^ Snow, D.W.; Perrins, C.M., eds. (1998). "Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)". The Birds of the Western Palearctic. Concise Edition. Volume 2: Passerines. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1557–1560. ISBN 978-0-19-850188-6.
  12. ^ Bensouilah, T.; Brahmia, H.; Zeraoula, A.; Bouslama, Z.; Houhamdi, M. (2015). "Variation in nest placement by the European Greenfinch Chloris chloris in relation to the age of orange trees". Zoology and Ecology. 26 (1): 9–14. doi:10.1080/21658005.2015.1126156.
  13. ^ a b Bensouilah, Taqiyeddine; Brahmia, Hafid; Zeraoula, Ali; Bouslama, Zihad; Houhamdi, Moussa (2014). "Breeding biology of the European Greenfinch Chloris chloris in the loquat orchards of Algeria (North Africa)". Zoology and Ecology. 24 (3): 199–207. doi:10.1080/21658005.2014.934514.
  14. ^ a b Kosiński, Ziemowit (2001). "The breeding ecology of the greenfinch Carduelis chloris in urban conditions (study in Krotoszyn, W Poland)". Acta Ornithologica. 36 (2): 111–121. doi:10.3161/068.036.0203.
  15. ^ Robertson, Hugh A.; Heather, B.D.; Onley, Derek J. (2005). The Hand Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand: Penguin Books. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-14-028835-3.
  16. ^ Robinson, R A; et al. (2010). "Emerging infectious disease leads to rapid population declines of common British birds". PLoS ONE. 5 (8): e12215. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012215. PMC 2923595. PMID 20805869.
  17. ^ Lawson, B.; et al. (2011). "Evidence of spread of emerging infectious disease, finch trichomonosis, by migrating birds". Ecohealth. 8 (2): 143–153. doi:10.1007/s10393-011-0696-8. PMID 21935745.
  18. ^ Lawson, B; et al. (2012). "The emergence and spread of finch trichomonosis in the British Isles". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 367 (1604): 2852–2863. doi:10.1098/rstb.2012.0130. JSTOR 41740010. PMC 3427565. PMID 22966140.
  19. ^ Lehikoinen, A.; Lehikoinen, E.; Valkama, J.; Väisänen, R.A.; Isomursu, M. (April 2013). "Impacts of trichomonosis epidemics on Greenfinch Chloris chloris and Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs populations in Finland". Ibis. 155 (2): 357–366. doi:10.1111/ibi.12028.


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