Bird Families

Mexican lentils Carpodacus mexicanus


Genus Lentil - Carpodacus - includes birds the size of a sparrow (large lentils - from a starling). The coloration of old males is with red or brilliant pink, females and males up to two years old are painted in a brownish-gray outfit with dark longitudinal streaks.

The beak of a lentil is strong, conical (like that of a velenushka), but still not as swollen as that of a bullfinch. Our largest lentil is called large lentil (C. rubicilla). In the Caucasus, it is sometimes called "Caucasian schur". It differs from other species well in size - the wing length is more than 10 cm (within 10.3-12.2 cm). An adult (three years old or more) male has very beautiful, carmine-red (crimson-red) plumage on the head, throat and chest with small silvery specks. The back is dark, brownish-red, the flight and tail feathers are brownish, the upper tail is red or pink. Females and juveniles are brownish-gray, with dark longitudinal streaks on the back and dark rounded spots on the chest. "Gray" large lentils are extremely similar to the "gray" (females and young males) pink lentils (C. rhodochlamys). However, on their chest dark streaks are not rounded, but longitudinal and, of course, smaller (wing 8.3-9.5 cm). Older males of pink lentils are dressed on the head and ventral side of the body in a shiny pink outfit with some mother-of-pearl sheen. This color is usually described as silvery pink. It is found in males of hurraguses, as well as on the throat and front of the “cap” (forehead and crown) in old males of Siberian lentils (C. roseus). Siberian lentils as tall as a sparrow (wing length 8.1-9.3 cm). The male in plumage has a red back, head and loin (there are dark streaks on the back). The tail and wings are brown. The female is more inconspicuous, brownish-gray, although it also has a noticeable red coating on the back and red plumage on the forehead and upper tail. Siberian lentils live in coniferous forests, adhering to near-valley areas.

Common lentils (C. erythrinus) are the smallest and most widespread. The wing is 7.3–8.8 cm long. The male is almost entirely red, but the back and loin have a strong brown tint, the underside is bright red, lightening on the belly. Mantle without dark longitudinal streaks. Even in females on the back, the centers of the feathers only slightly darken (young ones with streaks). The bottom of females has noticeable streaks on the chest and with a light throat and belly. At the beginning of summer, lentils betray their presence with a characteristic whistle song, which is transmitted as "vityu-saw" (with interrogative intonation). These birds live in the river valleys overgrown with bushes, along the edges of forests and even among tall grass meadows. For the winter, the birds fly away, and appearing in the middle lane, they start nesting late - in mid-May.

All lentils feed mainly on plant food, including seeds, berries, shoots of grasses and shrubs, and occasionally insects (this is more typical of the latter species).

Lentils nest on bushes or in rocks, in a clutch of 3-6 bluish eggs with dark spots. There are four species in Russia, of which only common lentils are found in the European part.

Juniper Lentil - Carpodacus rhodochlamys
Large Lentils - Carpodacus rubicilla
Caucasian large lentil
Central Asian large lentil
Mongolian large lentil
Siberian (Pink) Lentils - Carpodacus roseus
Tianshan lentils
Large pink lentil
Siberian lentils
Common lentil - Carpodacus erythrinus
European common lentil
Eastern common lentil
Caucasian common lentil


Mexican lentils (Carpodacus mexicanus) - one of the most common species in North America: its population is estimated at 21 million individuals. It is found throughout the United States and Mexico as well as southern Canada. At the same time, for the northern part of the continent, this species is not indigenous: the offspring of several specimens brought from California, released in 1939 in New York, having spread, occupied one of the widest ecological niches among modern bird species. If the original habitat of Mexican lentils were deserts and arid regions in the southwestern part of the continent, now they settle on the ocean coast, and on the southern border of the taiga, and in megacities. The northern populations, in contrast to the southern ones, have mastered a migratory lifestyle and spend the winter in the southern regions of the United States. In addition to the continental United States and Canada, Mexican lentils are also brought to Hawaii.

In eastern North America, Mexican lentils nest in the vicinity of human habitation, usually in cities, in the crown of mid-tier trees. In their original habitats, in the southwest, they can be found in deserts and steppes, on river banks, in bushes and in open coniferous forests.


For Mexican lentils sexual dimorphism in the color of the plumage is characteristic: the head, chest and back of males are colored red, the abdomen is motley, the wings and tail are brown. Females are colored more modestly - variegated below and brown above. Both sexes have a tapered beak, a long, non-forked tail, and a characteristic singing, often in flight. The total body length of the Mexican lentil reaches 14 cm, the tail length is 6.6 cm, the weight ranges from 19 to 22 g. The wide geographical distribution and diverse habitat have led to a large phenotypic variability in the appearance and physiology of these birds.


Mexican lentils monogamous. Their pairs are formed in winter, before the beginning of the nesting season. In the process of courtship, the male demonstrates the "flight of a butterfly", soaring up to 20-30 meters, and then starting a slow sliding descent, accompanied by loud singing. The nesting season for Mexican lentils lasts from March to August, and during this time the couple manages to make up to six clutches, of which, however, chicks usually come in no more than three. The nest of these birds is open, cup-shaped, in clutch there are usually from three to six bluish or greenish-white eggs weighing about 2.4 grams each. Only female incubates clutch for 12-17 days. Chicks leave the nest in 12-19 days, after which the female builds a new nest and makes a new clutch, and the father continues to feed the chicks for some time. The maximum recorded lifespan of Mexican lentils in the wild is 11 years and 9 months.

Lifestyle and nutrition

Mexican lentils - daytime birds. They feed mainly on grains; fruits and insects make up a small part of the diet. Unlike other types of lentils, Mexican lentils can feed on the ground, although they usually do so only in large flocks or in close proximity to high perches.