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A finch found in wild, rough countryside

Photograph by: 
Mark Wright

The linnet (Carduelis cannabina) is yet another bird species associated with farmland that is declining in numbers with quite substantial falls in population in the last 30 years or so. It is a seed eating species that used to thrive in fallow fields in winter but now, with fields ploughed and sown in autumn, its preferred food source has gone. Linnets form large flocks in winter with our resident birds joined by others from further north. These flocks can be encountered in open countryside and the species seems to favour scrubby places with gorse, sometimes venturing on to heathland. 

Linnets do breed in Dorset and records come from most weeks of the year but never in large numbers. There are very few reports from week 45 at the start of November until week 9 at the beginning of March which might imply that there is a degree of migration southwards into Europe. Given that the bulk of reports are usually during October this would seem to confirm autumnal migration. 

Although reported from a number of sites most are just single records. The bulk of the records come from Portland and along the south coast of Dorset towards Lyme Regis which further supports the theory that our summer breeding birds join up with those moving south and leave us until the following spring.

Finding linnets for your Dorset list is probably going to be a matter of luck rather than judgement as I am not sure they can be guaranteed anywhere!



Common Name Linnet
Scientific Name Carduelis cannabina
Species Group Birds Finches and Buntings
Status Restricted
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

The hint of red in the breast feathers

Identification Notes
  • Usually in large flocks outside of the breeding season
  • Will mix with other finches in large feeding parties
  • Hardly ever seen in garden, a bird of the open countryside 
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