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The brambling is similar in size and shape to a common chaffinch. Breeding-plumaged male bramblings are very distinctive, with a black head, dark upperparts, orange breast and white belly. Females and younger birds are less distinct, and more similar in appearance to some chaffinches.
This bird is widespread, in the breeding season, throughout the forests of northern Europe and Asia. It is migratory, wintering in southern Europe, north Africa, north India, northern Pakistan, China, and Japan.