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Greenfinch

European Greenfinch Male Greenfinch Male
Yellow-green with yellow wing bar and tail edges.
Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.
Carduelis chloris
Length: 15 cm  (6")
Wing Span: 25-28 cm  (10-11")
Weight: 25-32 g  (1 oz) Female Greenfinch Female
Like the male but greyer.
Breeding Pairs: 530 000
Present: All Year
Status: Green

Description

The Greenfinch (or Green Linnet) is a large stocky finch with a distinctly forked tail. It's about the size of a Great Tit.

In summer, the adult male is mostly olive-green except for yellow edges to their outer primary wing feathers and tail feathers, and a more yellow rump. The coverts, cheeks and undertail coverts are greyish. During the winter, the male becomes duller.

The adult female has grey-brown, slightly streaky upperparts, the underparts are tinged with yellow and there is less yellow on the wings and tail than the male.

The bills and legs of both sexes are flesh-coloured.

Juveniles are similar to the female but have darker streaks above and below. At first glance they can be mistaken for House Sparrows.

Voice

Choose from Quicktime and mp3. Song Call
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They have a wheezy song, "dzweee".

In flight, which is very bounding, its call is a repetitive "chichichichit".

Feeding

The Greenfinch's diet is seeds, buds and berries.

They will visit bird tables for seed, but are increasingly happy to perch on hanging feeders containing peanuts or black sunflower seeds, where they often remain for several minutes and sometimes up to half an hour or more. If a feeder contains a seed mix, they will often throw all the other seeds on to the floor so as to get the black sunflower seeds.

Nesting

Greenfinches nest in colonies in dense shrubs. The nest is made from twigs and grass, and lined with fine roots and hair, and built by the female.

The smooth, glossy eggs are white to pale beige with blackish markings, and approximately 21 mm by 15 mm. The female incubates the eggs by herself. After the young hatch, they are fed by both parents.

Breeding Data
Breeding Starts Number of Clutches Number of Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
April 2-3 3-8 12-14 13-16

Movements

After breeding, adults and juveniles disperse; the latter travelling the furthest. Some of the Scottish and northern England birds migrate to southern England and even into Europe for the winter. Meanwhile, northern European birds arrive along the east coast of Britain in the autumn.

Conservation

The Greenfinch has declined in farmland areas owing to changes in farming practices, such as autumn sowing which means there are no stubbles in the winter, and hedge flailing, which is increasingly used in preference to more expensive alternative hedgerow management methods, removes many of the seeds that they would otherwise eat.

Despite this, the Greenfinch has adapted very well to using gardens in the winter. However, a Medium BTO Alert exists for the Greenfinch because of the increasing number of nest failures over the last 15 to 20 years.

My Garden

Graph of garden visits.

The numbers of Greenfinches peaked during summer 2000 when adults were accompanied by the juvenile birds and fed on sunflower seeds. Over the following few years there numbers seemed to fall, but seem to be increasing again.


Last revision: 26 Dec 2014
Copyright © David Gains 1999-2015.
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