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a family of birds of the order of Pas-serif ormes. They are small or medium-sized. The males of many species are more brightly colored than the females, with red and yellow hues often appearing in their plumage coloring. The beak on some fringillines is conic, massive, and adapted for shelling or crushing seeds, whereas on others it is thin and serves to pluck seeds from pods, such as in bur-docks. On crossbills the upper and lower beaks cross at the end, an adaptation for plucking seeds from the cones of firs and pines.
Fringillines are divided into three subfamilies, the Fringillinae (three species), Carduelinae (122 species), and Geospizinae (13 species). Fringillinae are native to the Palearctic only, the Carduelinae are extremely widely distributed (although they do not exist in Madagascar, Australia, Oceania, and the Antarctic), and the Geospizinae inhabit only the Galapagos Islands and Coco Island. There are 35 species of Fringillidae in the USSR. They are especially numerous in the temperate latitudes but are found in all zones, from the tundra to the deserts and tropics and from sea level to the alpine mountain belt. Many fringillines live in forests or underbrush, but there are also desert dwellers. Some kinds of fringillines settle around human dwellings. The northern species are migratory; the southern are sedentary; and the alpine fringillines fly down into valleys in the winter. They are monogamous, nesting, with rare exceptions, in separate pairs. Their nests are open and are made of grass and twigs, forming a deep trough lined with wool, feathers, hair, and such; they are built on trees, shrubs, and the ground. Only the female bird builds the nest and broods. There are four to six eggs in a clutch (rarely, three or seven), and they are usually variegated. Most of the species have one brood a year, but some (for example, chaffinches, greenfinches, lin-nets) have two. Brooding takes ten to 14 days. At the end of the nesting season Fringillidae usually gather into flocks. Their basic food consists of seeds, grain, and berries, and insects are a less important element of their diet. Certain fringillines are harmful to agriculture, endangering grain and vegetable crops (white-winged grosbeaks, linnets, and greenfinches), or are harmful to forestry, eating the seeds of timber species (crossbills, grosbeaks, and others). They are useful because they eat the seeds of weeds and harmful in-sects.
REFERENCEPtitsy Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 5. Edited by G. P. Dement’ev and N. A. Gladkov. Moscow, 1954.
A. M. SUDILOVSKAIA