Quick facts

Common name: chaffinch

Scientific name: Fringilla coelebs

Family: Fringillidae (finches)

Habitat: woodland, farmland, parks and gardens

Diet: seeds and invertebrates

Predators: sparrowhawks and cats take adults; a range of predators may take eggs and chicks

Origin: native

What do chaffinches look like? 

Male chaffinches are colourful birds with an orange-pink breast and cheeks, grey-blue cap and orange-brown back. Females are much duller brown with hints of green and yellow. Size-wise they are slightly larger than a robin.

male chaffinch singing in gorse

Credit: Rebecca Cole / Alamy Stock Photo

What do chaffinches eat?

In summer, chaffinches mainly feed on invertebrates, with caterpillars commonly eaten. The diet switches towards seeds as the year progresses.

Did you know?

Chaffinches have regional accents, with slight differences in song between birds from different areas.

How do chaffinches breed?

Breeding occurs from April to June, with a clutch of four to five eggs laid. Chaffinch nests are classically round in shape, and delicately constructed with spiders’ webs, moss and grass, then lined with feathers. Nests can be found in trees, hedges and bushes. Chicks will fledge from around 13 days old.

chaffinch perched on branch in autumn

Credit: Tony Cox / WTML

Where do chaffinches live?

The chaffinch is widespread across the UK. It is common in woodland, but can also be found on farmland and will readily visit parks and gardens.

Did you know?

Historically, chaffinches were caught and used as caged song birds. Competitions were even held to see which bird would repeat its song most often.

Signs and spotting tips

Chaffinches forage for food both in the trees and on the ground. The brightly coloured males are the easiest to spot. Listen out for their powerful song and wide variety of calls. The species is also a common visitor to garden bird feeders.

Chaffinch song

Audio: Dave Curtis / xeno-canto.org

male chaffinch in flight

Credit: Steven Mcgrath / Alamy Stock Photo

Threats and conservation

The chaffinch is one of the UK’s most common birds, with a population of more than six million pairs. An increase of 21% has occurred since 1970, although a small decline has occurred from 1995 onwards.