The Bullfinch is a large, plump finch which feeds on buds and fruit in woodlands, hedgerows, parklands, gardens and orchards.
Beautiful, easy to tame and skilful at mimicry, it was often taken as a cage-bird in times past. Shy and secretive, its melancholy call may be the only indication of its presence in a thicket. Bullfinches usually nest in shrubs, such as hawthorn and blackthorn, making a flimsy nest out of twigs and moss.
How to Identify
Unmistakeable if seen well: male Bullfinches have a black cap, stubby black bill, grey back, black and white wing, black tail, white rump and rose-red breast. Females are greyish-brown.
Where to Find
How People Can Help
Bullfinch numbers decreased significantly over recent decades, but have since been recovering. Changes in agricultural practices, such as the removal of hedgerows, and the loss of woodland habitat, had detrimental effects on this bird, but work by The Wildlife Trusts to promote wildlife-friendly practices and sympathetic woodland management have helped it to survive. You can help too, by providing food and water for garden birds. To find out more about gardening for wildlife, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there’s plenty of facts and tips to get you started. To buy bird food or feeders, visit the Vine House Farm website – an award-winning wildlife-friendly farm which gives 5% of all its takings to The Wildlife Trusts.
Did you know?
Bullfinches were once considered a serious pest in orchards, so much so that in the 16th century, Henry VIII condemned their ‘criminal attacks’ on fruit trees, and an Act of Parliament declared that one penny would be paid for every bird killed.