Twite  Carduelis flavirostris


  • Carduelis : Latin word for the European goldfinch
  • Flavirostris : Latin word flavus- yellow;  rostris -billed

Vernacular Names: Tibetan: Pe-che, Deng-deng-ma

Distribution in India: Resident of Northern Himalayas in India.

Description: Size of 12–14 cm; Wt. of 11·5·21 g. It is a medium-sized, brownish, streaky finch with pale wingbars, short, stubby bill and slightly forked tail. The male of nominate race in breeding plumage has forehead to crown brown, finely streaked darker, nape to side of neck is lighter brown, streaked darker, pale buff-brown supercilium from upper lores to rear of ear-coverts merging with warm buff-brown on side of neck, lores are dark brown, thin dark eyestripe behind eye, cheek and ear-coverts are buffish-brown, finely streaked darker along rear and lower edge. The upperparts are like nape, but more broadly streaked with paler or warm buff edges, rump is pink or bright pink, uppertail-coverts are dark brown, fringed buffish or buff-brown. The tail is blackish-brown, outer feathers are finely edged pale buff or whitish; upperwing is dark brown, lesser and median coverts are finely tipped buffish-brown, greater coverts are more broadly tipped pale or warm buff-brown. The primaries are edged white forming broad panel on closed wing, secondaries are edged pale buff, tertials are more broadly edged brown or pale buff-brown; chin and throat to breast and flanks are warm buff-brown, centre and side of breast to flanks are streaked brown or blackish-brown, belly to undertail-coverts are white or washed buff .The iris is dark brown or black; bill is blackish above, dull yellow base of lower mandible; legs are black or blackish-brown. The non-breeding male with fresh plumage, in autumn and early winter is warmer brown on head and upperparts, side of neck is buffish, pink of rump heavily concealed by buff-brown tips, tips of greater coverts are more extensively pale buff-brown and white edges of primaries more prominent; throat and side of breast  are darker or more diffusely brown; bill is orange-yellow, brown base of lower mandible. The female is very like male, but has pale buff rump with dark centres or tips more uniform with mantle and back; white on primaries less extensive or less prominent. The juvenile is similar to female, but lighter or warmer brown above, with crown and nape feathers edged greyish, has warm buff or gingery-brown tips of greater coverts, fringes of tertials and edges of secondaries, face is paler, underparts are heavily streaked on breast and flanks, legs are dark brown. Races differ mainly in size and in colour saturation, but identification of individuals in worn plumage and of races outside breeding areas not always possible. In Ladhak race rufostrigata is found. It  has slightly larger bill, mantle rich warm brown, boldly streaked darker, rump bright or deep pink, blackish wings with broad pale buff or whitish tips on median and greater coverts forming wingbars and white fringes on outer tail feathers, lower belly and undertail-coverts warm brown, tinged cinnamon.

Habitat: During breeding it is found on lower montane and submontane plateaux, open moorland, barren hillsides, scree slopes, boulder-strewn areas with little or sparse vegetation, steppes, alpine meadows and areas with stunted bushes. It is found from 1000–4000m. In non-breeding season it is found  in similar open habitat at lower altitudes, including pastures, hillsides, river valleys, open and rocky steppes, and coastal and estuarine saltmarshes. It is found at 1500 m

Food habits:It eats seeds and buds, also small numbers of insects. Seeds and buds include those of juniper, birch, alder, oak, hemp, nettles, sorrels and docks, knot grass , goosefoot , sea-purslane orache, glasswort, sea-blite. It also eats Insects and larvae like flies and beetles. The nestling diet is mostly softened regurgitated seeds. It forages on the ground, and in low vegetation, bushes and trees. It takes seeds from ground, mud and edge of water; on ground, hops or shuffles. It perches on seed heads of tall plants to take seeds, also perches on stems and may hold stem or seed head under foot; forages in birch branches in agile manner. It is found in pairs or small groups. Following breeding season it gathers in larger numbers in wintering areas often associates with other finches,  Horned Larks and Snow Buntings .

Breeding habits: They breed in Apr–Aug; they have two broods. They are monogamous and territorial. The territory is used for nesting and some feeding, boundary limits not usually advertised or defended and poorly defined. The pair formation takes place during break-up of winter flocks; pair-bond strong and usually endures for more than one season. The male, wings beating rapidly, displays in low flight, moving in short circles or zigzags, above perched female, also hops on ground in front of her while singing, drooping wings and opening primaries and fanning tail, revealing wing patches and pink rump, sometimes tilts body to one side; partners face each other and open and close bills, and male also gently pecks at female’s neck; female may give food-begging call and courtship feeding of female by male may follow. The nest is built by female, accompanied by male. The nest is a compact, deep cup of plant fibers and roots, mostly of heather, bracken, grass, moss, animal hair and feathers, placed on ground or very low down on ground in dwarf willow , heather, bilberry , bracken, rushes or grass tussocks, occasionally beneath rock or in crevice in dry-stone wall and sometimes on cliff ledge. They lay a clutch of 3–6 eggs. The incubation is done by female alone. The incubation period is 12–13 days. The chicks are fed and cared for by both parents. The nestling period is 12–13 day. The young are fed by adults for up to a further 14 days after leaving nest.