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Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)

A social finch species that winters here in the UK.

Common name: brambling

Scientific name: Fringilla montifringilla

Family: Fringillidae

Appearance

Head: their bills are mostly yellow, which is useful when distinguishing bramblings from chaffinches. The male develops a deep black head plumage in spring, which fades into grey during autumn. 

Wings: they have brown spotted flanks under the wing when folded and a wingspan of up to 28cm.

Body: one of the larger finch species, the brambling is roughly 15cm in length. The majority of their plumage is brown, black and white, but their most predominant feature is a bright orange breast which fades into a stark white underbelly. 

Where to spot

The brambling is a winter visitor to the UK, so you are most likely to see them during the later months of the year, although they have been recorded through until May. They are often seen among chaffinch flocks in heathy clearings or open woodland. The species only tends to visit gardens when food is in short supply.

Feeding

Bramblings are ground feeders, predominantly eating insects during summer and switching to seeds in winter.

Breeding

The species breeds in northern Europe, mostly in Scandinavia and Siberia, and migrates to warmer climates throughout Europe for the winter.

Facts

  • In central Europe, brambling flocks can reach up to ten million individuals, although the largest flocks in the UK normally number in the thousands.
  • Close to 300,000 birds may spend the winter in the UK in a typical year.