Key facts

Scientific name: Carduelis cannabina

Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding pairs: 430,000

Conservation status: Green

Length: 12 – 14 cm

Wingspan: 22 – 26 cm

Weight: 14 – 20 g


Linnets are small, slim finches with chestnut mantles and lighter underparts. They have grey bills and brown legs.

In the summer males linnets have crimson foreheads and breasts while females stay much browner.

Juveniles are similar to female adults but with darker streaking and they have pale grey legs and bill.


Linnets build their nests from grass, moss and twigs in dense hedges, scrubs and thorny trees. The nest is lined with hair and wool and they lay 4-6 smooth, pale-blue eggs with purple and brown spots.

Eggs are incubated by female linnets for 10-14 days and the chicks fledge at 11-17 days.


Linnets are seed eaters although they will occasionally supplement their diet with insects too.


Where to see them

Linnet numbers have dropped significantly over the last few decades.

You can see them all year round particularly along the east coast. They are scarce in north west Scotland and are best seen in heathland, farmland, hedges, parks and gardens.


Jarek Matusiak/xeno-canto

Did you know?

During the Victorian era linnets were trapped and kept as caged songbirds because of their lovely song.

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