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Finches

Male chaffinch coming to drink at pond

Image: Nigel Blake

Small birds with forked or notched tails, moderately pointed wings, rounded or elongated bodies and round heads, with more or less triangular bills.

The bill shape varies according to the principal type of food, from short and rounded to rather long and sharp.

Some species are agile and feed while perching on, or hanging from, plants, while others are essentially ground feeders, but most also take insects from foliage in the breeding season. They have distinctive flight calls and simple, but sometimes musical, songs.

Brambling

Similar in size and shape to the chaffinch, the male has a black head in summer, and an orange breast with white belly. In flight it shows a long white rump. Gregarious in winter, it may form flocks o... More...

Brambling

Bullfinch

The male is unmistakable with his bright pinkish-red breast and cheeks, grey back, black cap and tail, and bright white rump. The flash of the rump in flight and the sad call note are usually the firs... More...

Bullfinch

Chaffinch

The chaffinch is the UK's second commonest breeding bird, and is arguably the most colourful of the UK's finches. Its patterned plumage helps it to blend in when feeding on the ground and it becomes ... More...

Chaffinch

Crossbill

A chunky finch with a large head and bill which is crossed over at the tips. Most often encountered in noisy family groups or larger flocks, usually flying close to treetop height. It feeds acrobatica... More...

Crossbill

Goldfinch

A highly coloured finch with a bright red face and yellow wing patch. Sociable, often breeding in loose colonies, they have a delightful liquid twittering song and call. Their long fine beaks allow ... More...

Goldfinch

Greenfinch

Its twittering and wheezing song, and flash of yellow and green as it flies, make this finch a truly colourful character. Nesting in a garden conifer, or feasting on black sunflower seeds, it is a reg... More...

Greenfinch

Hawfinch

The UK's largest finch, it has a massive, powerful bill. Always shy and difficult to see, the hawfinch has become even more enigmatic in recent years with a decline in many of its traditional breeding... More...

Hawfinch

Lesser redpoll

This tiny finch – only slightly bigger than a blue tit – is streaky and brown with patches of red on its head and sometimes its breast. They like to hang upside down to feed in trees. It has recently ... More...

Lesser redpoll

Linnet

A small, slim finch, widely distributed, and once very popular as a cage bird because of its melodious song. Males are attractively marked with crimson foreheads and breasts, females much browner. It ... More...

Linnet

Mealy redpoll

The mealy redpoll is a small finch. It is larger and paler than the very similar lesser redpoll. It is streaky brown above and whitish below with black streaks. It shows two white lines on the folded ... More...

Mealy redpoll

Parrot crossbill

The parrot crossbill is a large, powerful finch. It has a deep parrot-like bill and a sharply forked tail. The male is orange to red with dusky wings and tail, the female is olive-green or grey. It is... More...

Parrot crossbill

Scarlet rosefinch

Scarlet rosefinches are sparrow sized birds, mottled brown above with a streaked breast, pale belly and forked tail. Males, older than one year, have scarlet head, breast and rump. Females, juveniles ... More...

Scarlet rosefinch

Scottish crossbill

The Scottish crossbill is a chunky, thick-set finch with a large head and substantial bill. It is very difficult to distinguish from the other members of the crossbill family. It is the UK's only ende... More...

Scottish crossbill

Serin

Serins are small finches with short stubby bills and forked tails. Both sexes have streaky yellow brown upper parts, paler streaked under parts and lemon yellow rumps. Males have bright yellow heads... More...

Serin

Siskin

The siskin is a small, lively finch, which is smaller than a greenfinch. It has a distinctly forked tail and a long narrow bill. The male has a streaky yellow-green body and a black crown and bib. The... More...

Siskin

Twite

The twite is a small, brown finch closely related to the linnet, but with a longer tail and stubbier bill. Its back is tawny, heavily streaked with dark brown, and is white below with dark-brown strea... More...

Twite