Length: 14 – 16 cm
Wingspan: 22 – 29 cm
Weight: 27 – 38 g
Adult male bullfinches have a blue-grey mantle, white rump, and black tail. The wings are black with a pale wing bar. The underparts are rose-pink with a white vent.
On the head the crown, nape, lores, and chin are black, the cheeks and throat are rose-pink, and the glossy crown is bluish-black. The short, conical bill is black, the eyes are black, and the legs and feet are pinkish-brown.
Female bullfinches have a grey-brown mantle and underparts and pale pinkish-brown underparts.
Juveniles are similar to females but without the black cap. They have a buff wing bar.
Bullfinches produce 2 or 3 broods a season. They breed from early May to mid-July. They are monogamous for life and they will often join together with other pairs to form a small group.
The nest is built on a tree branch, or in a bush or thicket, 1-2 m off the ground. The female builds the nest which is a loose structure made from moss, twigs, and lichens, and lined with hair, moss, and roots.
Bullfinches lay 4-7 pale blue eggs with red-brown mottled, which incubate for 12-14 days by the female who is helped and fed by the male. Chicks are fed with insects and seeds that are brought to the nest by the male. They fledge at 12-18 days.
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. Look out for them in woodlands, orchards, and hedges.
Did you know?
The bullfinch gets its name from its front-heavy, bull-headed appearance.