Symbols of Winter: Bullfinches Appeared in Moscow

December 20, 2021
Parks and pedestrian areas

With the onset of winter, bullfinches began showing up in the natural territories of the capital. Mospriroda specialists noticed them in Serebryany Bor, Kuzminki-Lyublino Park and Bitsevsky Forest. Soon, red-breasted birds will be in sight in all specially protected natural areas of the capital.

Bullfinches live in the vicinity of Moscow all year round and belong to sedentary species. With the onset of cold weather, these birds from the finch family move closer to humans in search of food. That is why we usually notice them only in winter, when bullfinches gather in flocks and look for food in forests and parks.

The bullfinches’ bright plumage harmonizes with the outfit of Grandfather Frost, so we are used to seeing these birds on New Year's cards. Some people believe that it is the red-breasted birds that deliver children's letters to the winter wizard.

Multicolored Bullfinches

There are about 10 species of bullfinches worldwide, and they have different shades of plumage — not all birds are red-breasted. Even among the species living in the metropolitan area, there are individuals with a gray-brown breast. This is how female bullfinches look like — they do not like to attract attention to themselves.

Press service of the Moscow Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection (Mospriroda)

Where They Spend Their Summers

Bullfinches are particularly cautious and spend most of the year in forests around Moscow or in uninhabited territories of Moscow nature parks. In summer, they hide out far into the coniferous forest. There birds make nests and breed offspring, eating tree buds, berries and seeds. Bullfinches behave quietly and imperceptibly — they hide inside tree crowns. It is quite difficult to see them in the warm season.

Press service of the Moscow Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection (Mospriroda)

What Bullfinches Eat

The winter menu of bullfinches is very extensive and includes more than 120 species of plants. But the most favorite delicacy of these birds is rowan seeds. Bullfinches are not interested in red berries flesh, using a powerful beak they peck out only seeds. After such a meal, red crumbs of berries usually remain scattered on the snow under trees.

Bullfinches also love viburnum, buckthorn, elderberry, irga, as well as seeds of all kinds of herbaceous plants. They switch to buds and shoots in the second half of winter. Birds start eating them from the top of trees, gradually descending down.

One can feed bullfinches in winter with dried rowan and hawthorn berries. Mospriroda experts remind that winter feeding should be started once low air temperature occurs, ground is under constant snow cover or when ice is formed after a temperature drop.

Press service of the Moscow Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection (Mospriroda)


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