Number observed: 1
Details: This note appeared in Maine Bird Life in 1980, volume 2:18-19.
"Observations of a Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) in Maine.
While birding in Lincoln Center, Maine, April 3, 1980, I heard an emphatic call note with which I was entirely unfamiliar. A clear, ringing "bink-bink" was repeated several times and I immediately searched for the bird responsible for making this striking sound. After several minutes' search, I located an unfamiliar finch "bink-binking" about 22-25 feet up an ash tree. I was able to observe this bird for some 2-4 minutes through a 20 power telescope from a distance of 60-80 feet. The following notes were transcribed immediately after the bird departed the area.
I observed a fairly small, quite slim, long tailed finch about six inches long. The bill was obviously fringillid but not nearly as heavy as that of a an Evening Grosbeak. The bill was noticeably long for a finch's, longer than that of a Purple Finch, but about as deep at the base. The bill was obviously silver; this was very noticeable and the culmen was very straight.
My first impression of the under surface was a quite bright peachy/orange color. Closer examination indicated that this orange tone was most intense about the face and throat. The unstreaked chest seemed less intensely colored, and the undertail coverts were white.
The crown and nape were a deep bluish gray, and the area above the bill (front) was black. The blue/gray crown and nape suggested a hood which diminished on the side of the neck and did not meet across the throat. The color of the "hood" as it extended from the nape to the sides of the neck could not clearly be seen but was much darker than the peachy/orange cheeks and chest. The face was likewise peach/orange colored and the dark eye, thought to be dark brown, stood out sharply against the bright background. The face was unstreaked, there being no malar streaks, etc....
The wings were prominently marked. A large wedge of white was very obvious at the carpal joint. This extensive white wedge presumably occupied both the median and lesser coverts. The primary coverts displayed a bright white wingbar which was thinner than the white wedge at the carpal joint. The primaries were black, but several showed some white on the exposed area just below the greater coverts.
The interscapular region was a deep rusty/brown that contrasted with the blue/gray crown and nape. Because the bird was some 20-25 feet above the ground, I could not clearly determine whether this rusty/brown back was streaked or unstreaked. The uppertail coverts reminded me of the uppertail coverts of an immature Western Tanager but were probably not quite as bright.
The tail seemed long for a finch, certainly longer that that of a Purple Finch. It was black and only in flight did I observe white edging to the outer retrix. This white edging was not observable while the bird was perched.
The bird remained in the ash tree for some 2-4 minutes before flying some 75 yards and alighting in a other tree. It "bink-binked" several times in flight, and displayed the white edging to the tail. The extensive white wedge was very flashy in flight. I readied my camera, but before I could approach the bird flew across a large field and was gone. Subsequent search failed to relocate the bird.
Having written the above notes, a quick examination of European field guides confirmed my suspicions that the bird in question was indeed a male Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs). An abundant European finch with strong migratory tendencies, the Chaffinch has been found in North America, in Newfoundland, Massachusetts and Louisiana. The observation of this male Chaffinch in Lincoln Center, Maine, constitutes the first state record."
Jan 2012: First report was unanimously accepted (9-0) by the Maine Bird Records Committee, July 2009.
Number observed: X
Number observed: X
Number observed: X