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  The Hawfinch, a strikingly large and charismatic Bird but shy and elusive spending much of its time high in the treetops of broad-leafed woodland and avoiding the open ground.

With its large and very powerful bill, its large head and neck adapted to accommodate the muscle that helps generate a staggering 45kg of force and used for cracking open the likes of Cherry and Olive stones, so as to extract the inner seed, all the more impressive from a bird weighing in at a mere 2oz.

Generally, it is a nonmigratory bird although Northern birds move South of their breeding range. It is the Winter time that we see them in large flocks foraging open farmland and perhaps mixed with flocks of mixed passerines, Chaffinches, Bramblings and Greenfinches etc, who have also moved South in search of food.

The Male, with its Horned coloured Winter bill, in Summer it changes to a blue Black.

Here the Female duller in colour and a grey patch on the wing.

In the breeding season part of the Male Mating Ritual is to raise its head and chest feathers, it seems the head feathers also rise when it is alert to disturbance or danger.

Standing tall in the Winter treetop.

A Female looks down on a Blue Tit.

Here we can see the Iridescent blue flight feathers, once again at the breeding time, he will drop his wings displaying this beautiful colour to his new partner.

Except for the nesting period, Hawfinches are particularly pugnacious birds. Because their Winter feeding takes place on the ground they rather tend to give each other space. Whilst carrying out this study I observed a small flock of six birds have their feeding station invaded by a flock of eight birds.
What followed was quite incredible, one Female bird tried for forty minutes to remove all the newcomers.

What is interesting is that part of the mating ritual is bill kissing, it can begin as early as mid-Febuary so at first, I was unsure to what was happening here!

It is said that there is aggressive and defensive posturing associated with the possession of perching space and food. This is heightened as the days start to lengthen. My conclusion, this is combative aggression and not affection, however close we are to St Valentine's day!

The following day, still in the presence of the fourteen Hawfinches, I found "Bruiser" his bill has suffered some damage from the affray!

If a Hawfinch is disturbed it flies up through the tree, perching high in the tree canopy and descends branch by branch keeping an eye on the surroundings.

This is what happens when this male finds another male bird on its stamping ground.

110lbs of pressure on that bill.

Inside the bills are jagged to help hold the fruit stones.

The clash is over quickly.

They just need their own space! to perch and preen.

What a top bird!

This post first appeared on Roadrunners Mike And Linda, please read the originial post: here

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