Key facts

Scientific name: Pyrrhula pyrrhula

Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding pairs: 220,000 pairs

Conservation status: Amber

Length: 14 – 16 cm

Wingspan: 22 – 29 cm

Weight: 27 – 38 g


Bullfinches are small, stocky birds and both males and females have black caps, black bills, black wings and black tails with a white rump.

Male bullfinches have a blue-black back and bright rose-pink cheeks, belly and breast.

Females have a brown back and pinkish underparts while juveniles look very similar to females but without the black cap.

The distinctive shape of a bullfinch’s sturdy beak has adapted for picking buds from trees.


Female bullfinches build the nests in thick bushes and conifers. They are made from twigs, roots and moss lined with fine roots and hair.

Breeding season for bullfinches begins in April and continues until May. They lay 4-7 pale blue spotted eggs per clutch which incubate for 12-14 days. Youngsters fledge at 12-18 days.

Bullfinches, unlike many other birds, remain faithful for life and they will often join together with other pairs to form a small group.


Bullfinches have a varied diet which includes seeds, weeds, insects, sunflower hearts, nuts, grain, berries and buds. Young bullfinches eat mainly live food brought to them by their parents.

In gardens bullfinches can be seen hanging at a seed feeder or pecking at a suet cake.

Their preference for the buds on trees meant general licences allowing the trapping and culling of bullfinches were available until relatively recently.


Where to see them

Bullfinches can be seen all year round throughout the UK except the far north of Scotland particularly in woodlands, orchards and hedges.


Jens Kirkeby/xeno-canto

Did you know?

The bullfinch gets its name from its front-heavy, 
bull-headed appearance.

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