Key facts

Scientific name: Coccothraustes coccothraustes

Status: Scarce resident breeding species

Breeding birds: 500 – 1,000 pairs

Wintering birds: 10-15,000

Conservation status: Red

Length: 18 cm

Wingspan: 29 – 33 cm

Weight: 48 – 52 g


Hawfinches are the UK’s largest finch with a huge, powerful bill.

Hawfinches backs are rust-brown, their breasts and bellies are buff and their heads are orangey-brown. They have a black bib and grey neck with blue-black wings with a white patch.

In the summer the hawfinch’s bill is grey-blue and in the winter it is yellow.

Juveniles have more orange heads and don’t have the black markings.


Hawfinches build a flimsy, saucer-shaped nest from twigs, grass and lichen in old, shrubby trees, particularly oak and fruit trees.

Females incubate 2-7 smooth, glossy, light blue eggs with black markings. Incubation takes 9-14 days and the young fledge at 10-14 days.


Hawfinches eat fruit stones and other large hard seeds such as hornbeam and beech. They will also eat rosehips and haws and in the summer will supplement their diet with insects and caterpillars.


Where to see them

Hawfinches can be seen all year round although they are mostly restricted to England as numbers have declined in recent years.

You can spot them perched high in trees but they will also feed on the ground amongst foliage.


Matthias Hemprich/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Hawfinches jaw muscles can exert a force equivalent to 30-48 kg enabling them to crush the stones of cherries and plums.

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