Species of the month: December - Chaffinch

Let us know if you've seen some on our form below


Scientific Name: Fringilla coelebs

Identification: The male chaffinch is one of the most colourful garden birds with a blue-grey crown, brown back and pink breast. The female has a duller brown plumage.

Diet: They feed on seeds and insects and will happily visit bird tables

Behaviour: A male attracts a female to his territory through song. Breeding occurs from April to June, with a clutch of four to five eggs laid. Chaffinch make nests that are round in shape, delicately constructing them with spiders’ webs, moss and grass, before lining with feathers. 

  • The latter part of the scientific name originates from the Latin “Caelebs”, meaning bachelor or single, in reference to the all-male flocks left when the females leave to migrate.

  • Cambridge Professor of Animal Ethology, William Thorpe, determined that if young chaffinch are not exposed to the adult male's song during a critical period after hatching, they will never properly learn the song.

  • In Thomas Hardy’s poem “the Blinded bird”, he described the cruelty of competitions where male chaffinches were pitted against one another in a contest for the most bird calls – sometimes being blinded with hot needles.

Where can they be found?:

The chaffinch is widespread and can be found in grassland, farmland, and woodland habitats, as well as towns and gardens.

If you’re lucky, you may spot one at a number of our reserves including:


Brownsea Island Nature Reserve

Broad Oak Orchard

Wildife Gardening Tips:

  • Put out suitable food such as birdseed on a bird table and in feeders up off the ground away from predators.
  • Provide places for birds to nest and rest safely by planting native trees and shrubs, or putting up nest boxes
  • In the winter especially, it is important to provide fresh water for garden birds to drink and bathe in.
  • Keep feeders and tables clean to avoid disease

Let us know if you've seen a Chaffinch below...

Your Chaffinch details
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