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the web of life in southern Africa

Fringilla coelebs (Common chaffinch, Chaffinch) 

Gryskoppie [Afrikaans]; Vink [Dutch]; Pinson des arbres [French]; Buchfink [German]; Tentilhão-comum [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Fringillidae

Fringilla coelebs (Common chaffinch, Chaffinch)   

Common chaffinch, Hout Bay, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ©]


Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Europe to western Asia but was introduced to Cape Town, South Africa in ca. 1898, where it is locally common from Rondebosch to Tokai. It almost exclusively occupies plantations, alien woodlands, parks and gardens, rarely moving into mountain fynbos.

Movements and migrations

Largely resident and sedentary, although it may make local movements in the period from March-September.


It mainly eats insects and seeds, doing most of its foraging on the ground and in the canopy of trees. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • seeds
      • Acacia (alien wattles)
      • grain
      • Pinus (pines)
    • small fruit
    • leaf buds
  • Invertebrates


  • Although its breeding habits are little known in South Africa, it is though to be a monogamous, territorial solitary nester.
  • The nest is built solely by the female, consisting of a small cup of moss, grass stems, rootlets and hair, bound together with spider web and lined with feathers, hair, plant down and other soft material. It is typically placed in an alien bush or tree, usually from 3-10 metres above ground.
  • Egg-laying season is from September-November.
  • It lays about 3-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 12-13 days.
  • The chicks are fed mainly by their mother, leaving the nest after roughly 12-13 days and remaining dependent on their parents for approximately another 25 days (recorded in Europe).


Since it is introduced it is not of conservation concern and it seems to have had little impact on indigenous flora and fauna.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.