CITRIL FINCH (Serinus citrinella)

Venturon montagnard

As the French name suggests this is a bird of the mountains. It is a neat little finch, with a colouration that reminds you of a Greenfinch but it does not have the heavy beak of that bird, instead its shape is more like a Siskin with a long slender beak and small size, but it does not have a dark cap, instead the head is mostly grey. In Switzerland it is found in the mountains mostly above 1200m where it often occurs in small flocks mixed with other finches.

To my ears one of the most distinctive sounds of this neat little finch is a rather light musical call note, which is usually made in flight but can also be used when still (and as we will see later can be incorporated into its song):

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This call always seems to stand out, I think because of its musical quality. It is not the only call however, here it is mixed with other notes in a small flock keeping contact whilst feeding in a spruce tree:

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The full song however is quite complex and inconsistent in both rhythm and pattern. There is one commonly heard sequence which is not unlike a rather rapid sounding Chaffinch – it starts with a trill, moves on to a buzz then has a terminal flourish - after a few calls it occurs at 12s in this piece, then it moves and repeats it from further away at 19s:

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Click on the sonogram to visualise it:


In this song phrase then we seem to have some of basic elements of identifying a Citril Finch.

Here is a different bird recorded in a different year and again you can hear these same elements in there, you can also hear some of the other notes that get incorporated:

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But as I said earlier it is just not that easy and a really active singer can go off into all sorts of trills, buzzes and whistles which can be very confusing, but every so often you catch a sound of something familiar, listen out for those buzzy trills and the musical call notes we looked at first:

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This type of song is reminiscent of Goldfinch in some respects due to the "twittering" effect, and is more substantial and less wheezy than a Serin. The complexity should not be too surprising when you consider it is in the same genus (Serinus) as the wild version of the domestic canary.


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