Birds of the Pyrrhula genus of the Fringillidae Family

The Bullfinch is considered to be so-called from the thickness of its head and neck, when compared with other members of the Family Fringillidae (Finch), to which it belongs.   Bullfinches are the familiar birds which make up the genus Pyrrhula. Within the Pyrrhula genus there are six or seven species of Bullfinch (depending on whether the Azores Bullfinch, which is discussed below, is classed as a separate species).  All species occur in Asia, but only the Eurasian bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula), which is the species with the largest distribution area, is common beyond Asia, also being found in Europe.
Bullfinch Picture
Picture of Bullfinch

The Eurasian Bullfinch is a beautiful little bird, around 15 centimeters in length.  The varied plumage of the cock-his bright red breast and his grey back, set off by his coal-black head and quills-is naturally attractive; while the facility with which he is tamed, and his engaging disposition in confinement, made him a popular cage-bird in Victorian England, to say nothing of the fact (which, in the opinion of so many at that time, added to his charms) of his readily learning to "pipe" a tune, or some bars of one, though this perversion of his natural notes is hardly agreeable to the ornithologist. By gardeners the Bullfinch has long been regarded as a deadly enemy, from its undoubted destruction of the buds of fruit-trees in spring-time, though whether the destruction is really so much of a detriment is by no means certain.

Bullfinches in Northern and Eastern Europe are often larger, with more vivid tints than those who are common in the UK and Western Europe. A type of bullfinch which does not appear to be separated as an individual species in some classification structures (where it is considered to be a type of Eurasian Bullfinch), but is described by others as a  very distinct  species, the Azores bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina), is remarkable for its dull coloration.  As its name suggests, this bullfinch is peculiar to the Azores.

In the 19th Century a subspecies of the Eurasian bullfinch  was discovered in Alaska and named Cassin's Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula cassinii).  This was the first recognition of the Pyrrhula genus in the New World (Cj. Stejneger, Proceedings of the United States National Museum 1887, pages 103-110).

In the Himalaya area there are four species, two of them residing exclusively there.  Others are found in Asia from the Himalayas to Japan.

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