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A common finch of woodland, hedgerows and gardens

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

The chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) is frequently described in guide books as Britain's most common bird, it is certainly Europe's most common finch. After the 2014 RSPB Garden Birdwatch it stood at number five amongst our most common garden birds with an average of 2.2 per garden. A good number do visit gardens in winter when food supplies are short in the countryside but they disappear in spring to go nesting and raise their young. 

With them being so common it is easy to overlook what a striking little bird the male chaffinch is with a range of colours from pink to blue to black to white and many others in between. Despite the diverse range of colours, it is the white that one notices first when it flies; the white wing bars are immediately visible and are the easiest diagnostic feature. Quite often with birds there is one specific point that you recognise instantly and enables you to identify it immediately and for me it is that flash of white that does it.

Unlike most of its finch cousins the chaffinch has never really mastered the art of nut bag feeding, it is predominantly a ground feeder. However, it is prepared to have a go at seed containers that provide little perches to stand on but even then they do not seem happy. They much prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground.


Common Name Chaffinch
Scientific Name Fringilla coelebs
Species Group Birds Finches and Buntings
Status Common
Interest Level
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Look for

Very distinctive white wing flash often seen as it flies

Identification Notes
  • Once considered our most common native bird
  • Its colouration can not really be confused with any species other than the much rarer brambling
  • A ground feeding seed eater but has recently mastered the seed feeder in our garden! 
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Birds Finches and Buntings