The trumpeter finch (Bucanetes githagineus) is often a difficult species to spot as its greyish-brown plumage camouflages it perfectly against the stony deserts it inhabits (3)(4). The trumpeter finch is a short and stocky bird with a distinctive stubby bill, which is bright coral-red in breeding males and yellowish in females and juveniles. The breeding male also has a rosy pink tinge to the face, rump, wings, underparts and sides of the tail, and both sexes have darker primary and tail feathers, with pale edges. The juvenile trumpeter finch is similar in appearance to the female (4).
The trumpeter finch is named for its distinctive song, which is a nasal buzz that sounds similar to that of a toy trumpet (4).
Aided by its strong bill, the trumpeter finch feeds mainly on seeds (8), particularly those of oilseed rape (Brassica rapa) and canary grass (Phalaris canariensis) (9). It also feeds on low herbs, grasses and insects that are found when foraging in rocky areas. The trumpeter finch finds its food by flitting and jumping around on the ground, and will often dig fairly deep into the soil to find seeds (8).
The trumpeter finch constructs its nest in a rocky crevice or underneath a shrub, where it builds an untidy collection of roots, twigs, leaves, wool, grass, stalks and occasionally feathers. Trumpeter finches at the southern end of the range tend to lay their eggs earlier than their northern counterparts, in early March rather than late May (10). Temperature is a key factor in governing when this species breeds, with colder temperatures generally delaying breeding (11). The size of the clutch usually ranges from 4 to 6 eggs, which are incubated for 11 to 14 days (10).
The trumpeter finch is widespread across warm arid regions, occurring mainly in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Canary Islands (3). Since the 1970s, the trumpeter finch has also been observed breeding in south-eastern Spain (5)(6).
Cramp, S. and Perrins, C.M. (1994) The Birds of the Western Paleartic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Peterson, R.T., Mountfort, G. and Hollum, P.A.D. (1993) A Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.
Carrillo, C.M., Barbosa, A., Valera, F., Barrientos, R., and Moreno, E. (2007) Northward expansion of a desert bird: effects of climate change? Ibis, 149: 166-169.
Jonsson, L. (1982) Birds of the Mediterranean and Alps. Croom Helm, London.
Barrientos, R., Valera, F., Barbosa, A., Carrillo, C.M. and Moreno, E. (2009) Plasticity of nest site selection in the trumpeter finch: a comparison between two different habitats. Acta Oecologic, 35: 499-506.
Snow, D.W. and Perrins, C.M. (1998) The Birds of the Western Palearctic. Concise Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Carrillo, C.M., Barbosa, A., Valera, F. and Moreno, E. (2007) Seed selection by the trumpeter finch, Bucanetes githagineus. What currency does this arid-land species value? Annales Zoologici Fennici, 44: 377-386.
Barrientos, R., Barbosa, A., Valera, F. and Moreno, E. (2007) Temperature but not rainfall influences timing of breeding in a desert bird, the trumpeter finch (Bucanetes githagineus). Journal of Ornithology, 148: 411-416.
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