Print page

I have a chaffinch in my garden that is driving me absolutely nuts! It is calling non-stop and it goes on hour after hour, from dawn until dark. Why? And when can I expect it to stop?

Sent in by Joanne Hunt, Huntingdon

From what you have described, this repetitive and monotonous song is the chaffinch 'rain' call, and although it is far from the most melodic part of this bird's repertoire, some consider it to foretell rain, though this is highly disputable.

Occurring in long series, this call varies from region to region, thus giving rise to distinct local dialects. Despite the variation, this call often takes the form of a repetitive 'huit', 'hreet' or 'breeze'. Though this call can occur spontaneously, it is usually heard within the context of the breeding season or as an alarm call. The usual alarm call of a Chaffinch normally takes the form of a high-pitched 'seeee'.

Chaffinch breeding season usually begins around late April, but can occur in mid-July. Chaffinches build their compact cup-shaped nests in the forks of trees or hedges, and once complete, they will have one brood of around 4-5 eggs, which will be incubated for 11-13 days by the female.

Once the young have hatched, they fledge and leave the nest after a further 13-14 days. If the call behaviour of this particular individual is linked to the breeding season, then it is unlikely that this call will continue indefinitely.

It is worth bearing in mind that in addition to the rain call, chaffinches are capable of producing some highly musical songs that end with a flourish, listen out for the lyrical ‘chip-chip-chip-tell-tell-cherry-erry-erry-tissi-cheweo’ or ‘tupe, tupe’. Chaffinches, and especially the males, have unmistakable plumage. You have only to marvel at their grey-blue crown, pinky-brown cheeks and chest and striking white wing stripes.

Contact us

If you do have have a wildlife-related question you have not been able to find the answer to, please contact us. Click on the link below to go to our Contact Us page.

Contact us

Bird guide