What the … ??!!! The answer.

Referring to What the … !!!?? posted on 29th October. When I first saw the image below I was initially intrigued. It looked kind of familiar, of course, but the pink upper breast and light streaking reminded me of Linnet, which it clearly wasn’t.

The second image – the one in the original post – depicted a largely brownish finch with yellow outer edges to the primaries. It was now looking distinctly Greenfinch-like but it still had a pinkish breast and, although the bill looked large, was it really as large as that of a Greenfinch? My initial thinking was that it could be a Linnet x Greenfinch hybrid but the final image, sent subsequently by the photographer, poured cold water on everything: yellow in the outer tail and on the rump made this a Greenfinch beyond any shadow of a doubt and you would have identified the bird as such from this one photograph alone. But what about the abnormally coloured breast? It could be pigmentation but closer scrutiny shows a diffuse and uneven distribution of pink on the breast, which suggests that this has been acquired by feeding on fruit of some kind, possibly blackberries as suggested by Bob Bullock, whose analysis appears to be spot-on. Take away the pink breast colouration and the bird is a typical female Greenfinch, possibly a first-winter, and it was photographed in Walgrave by Pete Gilbert on 28th October 2012. Thanks to everyone who commented on the original post. This was just a bit of fun but it just goes to show how one anomalous feature, combined with restricted views, can conspire to fire the imagination in any number of different ways!

2 thoughts on “What the … ??!!! The answer.

  1. Many thanks to Mike and to all of those who responded to this. I am, once again, impressed by the knowledge that is out there! Would have been great to be a rosefinch though… Pete Gilbert

  2. The only reason I asked in the previous post, was it from sleys? Was because I was watching Greenfinches defending elderberries and one was leaning over them whilst another was pushing on it, it emerged with a pink’ish tinge on and around both the breast and bill.

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