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Key Information

Scientific Name: Chloris chloris

Bird Family: Finches

Population: 785,000 breeding pairs

UK Conservation Status: Red

The UK Greenfinch is a delightful and charming bird with its vibrant green plumage and melodious song. It has adapted well to a range of habitats, including gardens, woodlands, and farmlands, making it a common sight for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts across the United Kingdom.

What does a greenfinch look like?

As the name suggests, the most distinctive feature of the greenfinch is its green colour plumage. The adult male greenfinch typically has bright green feathers on its back, wings, and head. The wings also have yellow patches, which become more noticeable during flight. The underparts are usually a duller green or slightly greyish. The greenfinch has a pale-pinkish, sturdy beak that is slightly curved. Its face and throat are usually a pale green or beige. Female greenfinches tend to have less vibrant plumage compared to males. They typically display more subdued and duller shades of green. Juvenile greenfinches often lack the intense green colouring of adults. Their plumage is more mottled and streaked, with a mix of greens and browns. As they mature, their adult plumage gradually develops.

What do greenfinches eat?

Greenfinches have an omnivorous diet, which means they eat a variety of foods, including seeds, fruits, and insects. Seeds are a primary component of a greenfinch's diet. They are particularly fond of seeds, including Sunflower Hearts, Sunflower Seeds and Niger Seeds. They have strong bills that help them crack open the tough husks.

Where do greenfinches nest?

UK Greenfinches prefer to build their nests instead of using ready-made nest boxes. They site their nests in various locations, often choosing concealed and sheltered spots that protect their eggs and chicks. Greenfinches commonly build nests in trees and shrubs, particularly those with dense foliage. They may select the fork of a tree branch or hedgerow, a well-hidden spot amidst leaves, or within the tangle of twigs. Greenfinches are also known to nest in gardens, especially if there are suitable shrubs, bushes, or trees available. They might choose hedges, ornamental shrubs, or even potted plants to build their nests.

When do greenfinches nest?

Greenfinches in the UK typically nest during the spring and early summer months. Their nesting season usually begins in April and can extend into July. During this time, greenfinches search for suitable nesting sites, often in shrubs, trees, or hedges, and construct their nests. 

How many eggs does a greenfinch lay?

The female greenfinch lays around 3 to 8 eggs, and after an incubation period of around 12 to 14 days, the chicks hatch. The parents then take turns feeding and caring for the young birds until they fledge, which typically occurs around 15 to 20 days after hatching. The exact timing of nesting can vary slightly depending on local weather conditions and food availability.

Are greenfinches rare?

Greenfinches are relatively common and can be seen throughout the UK. They are easily enticed to any garden with a bird feeder full of Sunflower Hearts or Finches & Tits Seed Mix. Their population, however, has experienced a decline in numbers in the UK due to various factors, including a disease called trichomoniasis- this is why they are on the Red List for UK Conservation Status. Trichomoniasis is a parasitic disease that can affect birds, especially those that gather at bird feeders and water sources. This is why it's vital to clean feeding stations and bird baths regularly.

Do greenfinches migrate?

Greenfinches in the United Kingdom are primarily sedentary birds, which means they do not undertake long-distance migrations like some other species. In most parts of the UK, greenfinches are present year-round and do not migrate to distant locations for breeding or wintering. However, some local movements might occur, especially during harsh weather conditions or changes in food availability. In colder winters, greenfinches might move to more sheltered areas in search of food and better conditions. Additionally, fluctuations in food resources might lead them to travel short distances within their local range.

Overall, while greenfinches in the UK are not known for extensive migrations, their movements can be influenced on a more localised scale by factors like weather and food availability.