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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Twite

Bird Sightings - Twite


(Tweet, Lintoe, Heather Lintie, Lintie, Highland Lintie)

Cardeulis flavirostris

Gaelic: Gealan-beinne, Riabhag Mhonaidh, Riabhag Fhraoich


Photograph © Suzanne Harris
Croir - Great Bernera - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
September 23rd, 2008

"We usually have a few Twites about the village throughout the whole year, but during this last week sometimes each day there have been as many as a hundred birds at a time gathering on the telephone wires, filling the village with a lovely, noisy twittering. Every now and again the big flock splits into groups of 20-30 birds which go off on in different directions. My neighbour's croft did not have any sheep this year and the seeds are abundant...so are the Twites, much more so than usual at this time.

I was listening to the RSPB Twite song on my computer near an open window today and the flock came twittering over the house to check it out..."

"A few days on and a big gale blew from the North and the Twites all went - not one was left, but after week or two I was very happy to see and hear that a handful of them returned and were once again foraging about the village"


Our Twite photographs

flock feeding



  • Twite
  • Cardeulis flavirostris
  • Gaelic: Gealan-beinne, Riabhag Mhonaidh, Riabhag Fhraoich
  • UK: RED LIST. Breeding 6,000-15,000 pairs. Winter: 100,000-150,000 birds (including Ireland) RSPB
  • UK: Migrant/Resident Breeder, Winter Visitor
  • WI: Fairly common resident breeder (100-999 breeding pairs)
  • Breeds: Nests in heather or bracken. Lays 4-7 eggs. Open moorland. Collects seeds from grassland in Spring for young.
  • Winters: Birds mainly resident in NW Europe and Asia. UK breeding birds come down from moors forming large flocks on grassland, coasts, salt marshes, coastal farmland . A few UK birds cross North Sea. Some Scandinavian birds join resident mainland UK birds to overwinter.
  • Small dark & streaky! Tawny-brown with blackish streaks above. Underparts buff-whitish, & brown streaked. Bill conical & yellow (winter), grey (summer). Breeding male has rose-white rump (Lower back above tail), faded orange on throat. Forms large flocks in wintertime (sometimes mixed with other finches)
  • Diet: Forages small seeds (grasses etc) from open ground where spends much time feeding in winter
  • Max recorded age 4yrs
  • Listen to a Twite (RSPB site). Song fast trills & twitters. Call "twit"
  • Similar birds: Lesser Redpoll, Linnet


The Twite is thought to have originally come from Tibet, the only European bird to do so. (See Birds Britannica)


Twite records in the Western Isles

Fairly common resident breeder (100-999 breeding pairs)
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)

On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the bird is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.

























(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)


Worldwide there are two distinct Twite populations, one in Asia, Turkey & China (6 races) and the other is the North West European population (2 races).

The two North West European races are Cardeulis flavirostris which mainly breeds along the Norweigan coast and winters in Central and Eastern Europe and Cardeulis flavirostris pipilans which breeds in the UK and Ireland. This is the race which breeds in the Western Isles.



Other local bird photographs

Sources of information for the bird sightings section

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