Bird #538 — Hawfinch

coccothraustes coccothraustes (from kokkos, seed, and thrauo, to break,
to shatter)

Sunday, April 21, 2019 — 10:05 am

Böblingen, Germany — hiking trails through the woods along the Panzerstrasse

Panzerstrasse is a busy road. A bike path runs alongside it, and I had to walk along the bike path to get to the trails through the woods. I noticed two birds flying above the trees and thought at first glance that they might be Starlings because of their short tails and triangular wings. I managed to follow their flight until they landed in the very top of a tall tree some ways into the woods across the road. Through all the intervening branches, I managed these photos.

I did not identify them as Hawfinches based on these photos alone. Twice more during the same morning I spotted them high in the trees in the same general area. I got good looks, although they never stayed in one place for more than a few seconds.

One of my field guides says, “Very wary and shy and difficult to observe, spends most time up in canopy or seen flying fast high up between woodland-edge trees.” That was exactly my experience. It may help you figure out what’s going on the photo when you compare it to the picture in the field guide, in which the bird is perched almost the exact same way. You can make out the giant head and bill and the black chin patch, as well as the pale tawny breast.

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