Greenfinch, Carduelis chloris, male perched on lichen covered branch

Finch trapping

Find out more about the legalities of breeding and keeping finches.

Finch trapping

The breeding and keeping of finches is a lawful pursuit providing the birds are captive bred and legally held in captivity. The trapping, possession and sale of wild finches, however, is an area of criminal activity which remains a widespread problem in the UK.

Possession or control of a wild bird is an offence of strict liability. Anybody possessing wild birds is obliged to show, on a balance of probabilities, that their possession is lawful.

Finches listed on Part I Schedule 3 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 can only be legally sold if they have been bred in captivity from lawfully held parent birds, and if they are fitted with Government approved close-rings.

In 2008, the RSPB received 64 reports of the illegal taking, possession or sale of wild birds other than birds of prey. These reports predominately involve finches. Reports of finch trapping incidents received by RSPB are routinely passed to our colleagues in the RSPCA who have developed an expertise in investigating these types of incidents.

There is a ready market in the UK for trapped wild finches and many species fetch £40 or more when sold. It has also been shown that some of the finches trapped in the UK are exported to other European countries such as Malta. 

How you can help

Poisoned bird of prey

Have you seen a crime against a wild bird? Use this form to report a wildlife crime to us.