British Bird of the Month: Greenfinch

Member of Fringillidae (Finch) family


The Greenfinch is found throughout the UK except for the most northern outposts. It is a large stocky finch with a distinctly forked tail. The plumage of the sexes varies with the male having the most green and yellow, whilst the juvenile’s plumage makes it possible to confuse with a House Sparrow

After breeding, adults and juveniles disperse, heading to Southern England or mainland Europe. The UK birds are replaced with birds from further north. Greenfinches can form large flocks outside the breeding season, sometimes mixing with other finches and buntings.

What They Eat & What You Can Offer Them

The Greenfinch’s diet is seeds, buds and berries.

They will visit bird tables for seed, but are increasingly happy to perch on hanging feeders containing peanuts or black sunflower seeds. They have been known to spend 30 minutes at a feeder. If a feeder contains a seed mix, they will often throw all the other seeds on to the floor so as to get the black sunflower seeds.

Greenfinch populations have varied greatly over the last 30 years. A recent decline has been linked to trichomonosis, a parasite-induced disease which prevents the birds from feeding properly.

Adopting the following regime for feeding garden birds can help stop the spread of this disease.

  • Routine good table hygiene
  • Supply of clean and fresh drinking water on a daily basis
  • Supply of fresh food from accredited sources
  • Rotate positions of feeders to avoid build-up of debris from birds and food

Where They Live & How You Can Help Them

Greenfinches nest in small colonies in dense shrubs. The nest is made from twigs and grass, and lined with fine roots and hair, and built by the female.

The 3-8 eggs are laid in 2-3 clutches and take around 13 days to incubate.

Leaving a nice bushy hedge uncut could provide nesting sites for Greenfinches.

And Finally……..

In Malta the Greenfinch is considered a prestigious song bird which has been trapped for many years. It has been domesticated and many Maltese people breed them.

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