Family Finches (Fringillidae)

Least Concern

Twite (Linaria flavirostris)


French: Linotte à bec jaune German: Berghänfling Spanish: Pardillo piquigualdo

Fringilla flavirostris


, 1758,



Has hybridized with L. cannabina. Much variation within race montanella, some populations of which have been separated as pamirensis (from Alai and Transalai), baltistanicus (Sanpur, near Skardu, Baltistan, in N Pakistan) and pallescens (Chumbuz Darya, W of Kashkar, in NW China); similarly, range of variation within korejevi may encompass populations presently separated as races kirghizorum and altaica; further research required. Otherwise, geographical variation often weak and in some cases possibly not applicable to birds outside breeding season; also, individuals in worn plumage not easily assigned to race. Birds from Outer Hebrides, in W Scotland, have been separated as race bensonorum on basis of dull brown upperparts streaked blackish, but considered to fall within range of variation of pipilans, with which synonymized. Nine subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. f. pipilans (Latham, 1787) – N Ireland and N Britain; in winter also to coastal SE England, and NE France E to Netherlands.
  • L. f. flavirostris (Linnaeus, 1758) – Norway E to Kola Peninsula (NW Russia), marginally also N Sweden and N Finland; winters in coasts of Baltic and North Sea and to C & E Europe.
  • L. f. brevirostris (Bonaparte, 1855) – Caucasus and adjacent S Russia S to SC & E Turkey and NW & N Iran.
  • L. f. kirghizorum (Sushkin, 1925) – N & C Kazakhstan; in winter also to S Kazakhstan and N Uzbekistan.
  • L. f. korejevi (Zarudny & Härms, 1914) – NE Kazakhstan (S Altai, Tarbagatay) and NW China (N Xinjiang); in winter also to SE Kazakhstan and Tajikistan S to C Afghanistan.
  • L. f. altaica (Sushkin, 1925) – S Russia (C & E Altai and W Sayan Mts, and Tuva Republic) and W & N Mongolia.
  • L. f. montanella (A. O. Hume, 1873) – E Kyrgyzstan, Pamir-Alai Mts, Tajikistan, S Uzbekistan, WC China (W Xinjiang S to Karakoram, Kunlun Shan and Altun Shan, E to N Qinghai), Afghanistan and N Pakistan (Chitral, Gilgit and Baltistan).
  • L. f. rufostrigata (Walton, 1905) – Ladakh, W & S Tibetan Plateau (W & S Xizang), and N India E to N Nepal.
  • L. f. miniakensis (Jacobi, 1923) – E Tibetan Plateau (S Qinghai and E Xizang) E to C China (E to Gansu and W Sichuan).
  • Descriptive notes

    12–14 cm; 11·5·21 g. Medium-sized, brownish, streaky finch with pale wingbars, short, stubby bill and slightly forked tail. Male nominate race breeding... read more


    Calls include a jumbled twitter of metallic and buzzing notes, very similar to those of L.... read more


    Breeds on lower montane and submontane plateaux, open moorland, barren hillsides, scree slopes,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly seeds and buds, also small numbers of insects. Seeds and buds include those of juniper (Juniperus), birch, alder (Alnus... read more


    Season Apr–Aug; usually two broods. Monogamous. Solitary or semi-colonial; up to 15 pairs nesting together in Kazakhstan, smaller... read more


    Resident and migratory. N European breeders move S & SW to wintering grounds mainly in coastal... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to locally common; in non-breeding range may be erratic or occasionally numerous. Estimated European breeding population (... read more

    Recommended citation

    Clement, P. (2020). Twite (Linaria flavirostris). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).