Key facts

Scientific name: Fringilla coelebs
Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding birds: 6,200,000 territories

Conservation status: Green

Family: Finches

Length: 14-16 cm
Wingspan: 24 – 29 cm
Weight: 18 – 29 g


In breeding plumage adult male chaffinches have reddish brown upperparts with a green rump. They have black upperwings with two white wing bars, and pale buff edges to the flight feathers. Their tails are black with white outer rectrices.

They have pinkish-brown underparts with a white vent and undertail coverts.

Chaffinches have black foreheads, and a grey crown, nape, and sides of the necks. Their cheeks and ear coverts are pinkish-brown. They have a grey-blue pointed bill, dark brown eyes and pinkish-brown legs and feet.

In winter plumage male chaffinches have duller plumage and the bill is dull pinkish-grey.

Female chaffinches have similar patterns to males with duller olive-brown plumage and pale underparts with cream-coloured wing bars which are narrower. Their heads are brown with a pale nape patch. They have pale pink bills with a black tip, and a white-feathered eyering.

Juvenile chaffinches resemble females.


Chaffinches breed in woodland, particularly coniferous plantations, although they will also nest in gardens and parks with trees and bushes.

The female chaffinch builds the nest in a fork of a tree or concealed bush using moss, grass, lichens, roots and moss to make a cup shape bound together with spiders’ webs. It is lined with hair and feathers.

Chaffinches lay 4-5 pale blue eggs with reddish-grey or purple-brown blotches and scrawls. The female incubates the eggs for 10-16 days and chicks are fed by both parents. They leave the nest at 13-14 days but still depend on their parents for a further week until they can feed and fly.


Chaffinches form large groups in winter eating seeds and fruit from farmland and gardens.. During breeding season they are fiercely territorial and will supplement their diet with caterpillars.


Where to see them

Chaffinches can be seen all year round across the UK in woodlands, hedgerows, fields, parks and gardens.


Dmitry Kulakov/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Chaffinches have regional accents with slight variations in their songs depending on where in the country they live.

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