Beautiful little finch with a sharp pink bil, cherry-red face, and brilliant black-and-yellow flashes in the wings. Western birds (Europe east to far western Central Asia) have a black-and-white cowl; eastern birds (rest of Central Asia) lack this cowl, and are grayer overall, with more white on the wing. Juvenile (seen in late summer and autumn) has a plain head but is told easily by bold wing pattern. Uses a wide array of wooded and open habitats, from forests and gardens to steppe grasslands and meadows; often feeds on seeding thistles. Forms flocks in autumn and winter, gathering at food sources. Can be inconspicuous, but often detected by pleasant bubbling and twittering calls and song.