E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Chloris sinica (Linnaeus, 1766)
Grey-capped Greenfinch; Oriental Greenfinch
Family: Fringillidae
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Distribution of Chloris sinica in British Columbia
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Species Information

First record of Oriental Greenfinch (Chloris sinica) for British Columbia and Canada
By Rick Toochin

View the complete article with photos/figures here..

Introduction and Distribution

The Oriental Greenfinch, also called Grey-capped Greenfinch (Chloris sinica), is found in eastern Asia from southern Russia south to central Vietnam (Brazil 2009, Clements et al. 2012). Its range includes the southern and central part of the Kamchatka Peninsula, The Kuril Islands to Sakhalin, the entire Korean Peninsula, Japan, and central, eastern and southern China (Brazil 2009). There are five subspecies of Oriental Greenfinch found within the birds range (Brazil 2009). These subspecies are resident within their range, except the subspecies (C. s. kawarahiba) that migrates between the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Kuril Islands to Sakhalin Island (Hamilton et al. 2007, Brazil 2009, Clements et al. 2012). This subspecies is casual in the outer Aleutian Islands and is accidental at Adak Island and St Paul in the Pribilof Islands in Alaska (Beadle and Rising 2006, West 2008, Brazil 2009, Dunn and Alderfer 2011). There is only one historical record south of Alaska; a bird that was seen from December 4, 1986-April 3, 1987 in Arcata, California (Hamilton et al. 2007). Though the record was photographed and well documented the California Rare Bird Records Committee (CRBRC) did not accept the record because of questions of the bird’s origin (Hamilton et al. 2007). An extensive search by the CRBRC in 2005 found a total of 8 known Oriental Greenfinches kept in captivity throughout North America (Hamilton et al. 2007). It is always a possibility that this bird was an escapee, but given the pattern of vagrancy demonstrated by other Asiatic birds that have turned up in western Alaska and along the West Coast of North America, this species might be found again in the future. There are no records for Washington State or Oregon (Wahl et al. 2005, OFO 2012, WBRC 2012). The only other record of Oriental Greenfinch south of Alaska is of a bird found and photographed on May 27, 2009 at Francois Lake, outside Burns Lake in Northern British Columbia (J. Bowling Pers. Comm.). Given the scarcity of records away from the outer Aleutian Islands and south of Alaska, it might take many decades before another greenfinch will be found in British Columbia or anywhere along the West Coast of North America.

Occurrence and Documentation

On May 27, 2009 while watching his bird feeders Keith Walker noticed an odd bird in his yard. After taking several photographs he sent the images to the Prince George online bird chat group where the bird was identified as an Oriental Greenfinch (J. Bowling Pers. Comm.). The bird appears to be a first year male based on the photographs that were taken by Mr. Walker (J. Bowling pers. comm.). It is impossible to know if this bird escaped from captivity but it seems highly unlikely given the remote location it was found. It was also found at a time of year when Oriental Greenfinch’s are known to migrate to their northern breeding grounds, and though well inland from the Coast the bird was at the correct latitude for the time of year it was found (Roberson 1980, Beadle and Rising 2006). In Alaska, Oriental Greenfinch is a rare, but regularly occurring migrant species with at least 18 records for the State since the first in 1976 (Roberson 1980, Beadle and Rising 2006, West 2009). Most birds occur on the outer Aleutian Islands predominantly as late spring migrants (late May – June) but there are also a few fall records (August -September) with almost all the records confined to the Islands of Attu, Buldir and Shemya (Roberson 1980, Beadle and Rising 2006, West 2009, Dunn and Alderfer 2011). Additional Alaska records include one bird that was observed from June 12-16, 1996 on St. Paul Island in the Pribilofs and a couple of recent records on Adak Island (Beadle and Rising 2006, West 2008). Occurrence in the outer Aleutian Islands is most likely the result of large storms that cause birds to overshoot the breeding areas on the Kamchatka Peninsula (Roberson 1980). Many birds have been seen in the outer Aleutian Islands in small flocks but others have been seen as single birds (Roberson 1980). Despite their somewhat regular occurrence, Oriental Greenfinch has not turned up in mainland Alaska, making their occurrence in North America very limited in area (Beadle and Rising 2006). Though other species that occur regularly in the Aleutian Islands, like Rustic Bunting and Brambling, seem to have a pattern of occurrence south of Alaska, Oriental Greenfinch has not yet developed any such pattern (Beadle and Rising 2006). It is very important to photo document all future records to help elucidate any vagrancy trends that may become apparent. Unless a pattern of vagrancy develops, the origin of the Francois Lake bird will remain unknown. Hopefully future records will show that this bird fits a larger west coast pattern of vagrancy.

View the complete article with photos/figures here.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

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General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2023-10-02 2:52:26 PM]
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