Body length: 16-17 cm
Body mass: 25-30 g
Male: very handsome, with ash-grey back, bright-red breast and black cap extending to eyes and bill.
Female: again with ash-grey back and extensive black cap, though brownish breast.
Juvenile: like female, but lacking cap.
Often flocks, especially in winter. Keenest on young spruce forests and Christmas tree plantations, but also mixed forests with plenty of spruce. More rarely also in tall junipers. Nests are very well-concealed and quite deep, with small plant fibres, moss and hair, as well as small spruce twigs at the base. Breeds twice a year. Diet variable in line with season. Seeds of wild plants always a key component, but also buds in spring; and small spiders and insects also taken. Males are dominant, and one female may have two mates. The literature also includes examples of visible gynandromorphism, i.e. with birds having half-male and half-female plumage. Mainly a resident.
Descriptions drawing on content of Ptaki Polski (“Birds of Poland”) - a book authored by Andrzej G. Kruszewicz, and published by MULTICO Oficyna Wydawnicza Sp. z o.o.