Posted by Admin on 28 April 2006, 12:00 am

Chaffinch    Fringilla coelebs


Photo credit: Sannse/GFDL



Length = 14-16cm   Wingspan = 25-28cm

Physical description


Stocky build. Thick bill.


Male: pink breast, belly and cheeks; metallic blue crown and nape; brown upper back; olive green lower back. White shoulder patch and white bar on dark wing: both show clearly when the bird is stationary and flying in its undulating manner.


Female: plainer than the male; grey/brown head; greyish breast, belly and cheeks. Same white shoulder patch and wing bar.




Call: huet-huet, followed by pink-pink.


Song: a fast, bright and descending cascade of notes with a flourish at the end. It is repeated over and over. Sings from a prominent perch; its powerful voice makes the song carry a long way.




Seeds: goosefoot, chickweed, charlock.

In good years for beech trees it feeds on beech mast under the trees.

In summer eats insects: mostly caterpillars, also flies and spiders.



Up to 5 years.



Primarily a woodland bird, but has adapted to man-made environments.

Nests in gardens, parks, orchards, shrubs and farmland.

Feeds in open areas e.g. lawns, grassy paths, woodland floors.


Geographic range

Whole UK.



Resident and winter visitor. Some birds come from Scandinavia to spend the winter in the UK.


Conservation status


Related species


Where can I see this bird in Northwood / Medham?


Many places. Chaffinches use many of the bird feeders and bird tables that people put in their gardens, and hop around on the ground foraging for food. They eat insects in trees which are found in many gardens.


If they do not come to your garden, try the area of Medham Farm Lane before the private road leads off to the left, or near the bottom of Pallance Lane where there are trees outside the houses.


Why is this bird worth seeing?


If chaffinches were rare we would rave about their colour combination of pink, blue, green, brown, black and white. But because they are so common (the second most common bird in the UK after the wren with c.7 million pairs) we tend to take them for granted. They add a welcome touch of colour to every garden, which is enhanced if the male is singing.

The song is quite distinctive, and one of the easiest to learn. Chaffinches start singing in February, an early sign that spring is on the way.


Binoculars needed?

Useful for getting a closer look.

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