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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
Kneep - Uig - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
October 13th, 2008

"Saw this flock of Twites feeding on the creeping thistle seeds on Kneep machair, there were about 25 of them. At one point about 10 were on a single dried bracken stem - I think they were just using it as a perch to eat from. Such cheery wee birds, it is always a joy to see and hear them. Later that day driving about Uig I saw my first White-tailed Eagle"


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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