Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Bullfinch (Pyrrhula europaea), a well-known finch (q.v.), widely distributed over Great Britain and common in some parts of Europe, but scarce in Ireland. The male is rather more than six inches long, ashy grey on the back, crown, tail, and long wing-feathers black, white bar on wings. The female is rather smaller, and has the back brownish grey, the under surface bluish grey, and the rest of the plumage less brilliant than in the male. Black, albino, and pied varieties often occur. The bullfinch frequents copses and plantations, and is an unwelcome visitor to orchards and gardens, for it has a bad reputation for destroying the buds of fruit trees, though against the undoubted harm it does in this way should be set its destruction of the seeds of countless docks, thistles, and plantains. The nest is a rude structure of twigs, lined with root-fibres, and generally containing four bluish-white eggs, speckled with orange-brown. There are usually two broods in the year. The natural song is soft and simple, but so low as to be almost inaudible. The call is a plaintive whistle, and while feeding the bird utters a feeble twitter. The popularity of the bullfinch as a cage-bird is due to the fact that it can be taught to whistle a simple air - in some cases two or three - and to its capacity for attachment to its owner. Bullfinches are, for the most part, trained in Germany, and the work of teaching them begins early and must be continued till after the first moult, for at this period they often forget, or repeat in a confused fashion, what they have previously learnt. P. major, a larger form, occurs in the north and east of Europe.