This is a widespread and handsome finch showing a great deal of racial variation. In most races the male is very pink on the cheek, breast, belly, flanks but not behind the legs. This area and the rump are white. The nape, mantle and back are pale grey and the head, rest of the face and chin are black (as are the main wing and tail feathers). The female is very similar but the pink areas are grey flushed with pink.
They are found throughout temperate Eurasia and they are sedentary in Southern areas but, elsewhere they are short distance migrants. These birds are very true to each other and can be found in scrubland, farmland or open woodland as a pair - using their flute-like call to keep in contact. Fruits, seeds and vegetation are eaten and the young need some invertebrates too. The Bullfinch bill is short and conical - but not so strong as it looks. In the spring the ability to digest fruit buds has made them the enemy of the fruit farmers. This is another bird in decline due to changing farming practice in Britain. There are probably about 250,000 pairs breeding in Britain and Ireland.
A grey and black finch with pink underparts and a white rump.
(Northern birds may have wings up to almost 100 mm)
The following Bird On! picture is available:
Bullfinch (Watercolour by Robert Gillmor)
Length 155 mm Closed wing 82 mm Weight 30 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead