Guide to the

Do you think you’ve spotted this colourful bird in your garden? Take a look below at our Chaffinch bird guide – although you’re more likely to hear them before you see them! An interesting fact is that Chaffinches are the only Finches which feed their young only insects. Also, if you’re trying to attract them to your garden, scatter bird seed on the ground or on a feeding table: they don’t tend to feed from traditional hanging bird feeders.

How to identify Chaffinches?

About the size of a House Sparrow, the main feature of both female and male Chaffinches is their double white wing bar. Male Chaffinches have a grey-brown crown and nape, a chestnut back, an olive-green rump and pink-buff cheeks, throat and chest. Females and young birds are duller. They have an olive-brown back and grey-brown upperparts. The female also has a greenish rump.

What do Chaffinches sound like?

The main call is a clear ‘pink pink’. The song starts with two or three repeated notes followed by a ‘whee-oo’ ending.

What do Chaffinches eat?

Insects and spiders dominate in the summer, with seeds important at other times of the year.

What predators do Chaffinches have in gardens?

Mainly Sparrowhawks.

How numerous are Chaffinches?

According to the latest population estimate from 2016, there were 4,800,000 pairs of Chaffinches in Britain and 5,050,000 pairs in the UK.

How long do Chaffinches live for?

On average, Chaffinches live for around three years. However, the current longevity record for this species is 14 years.

When are Chaffinches most frequently seen in gardens?

According to Garden BirdWatch data, which has been collected since 1995, they are most frequently seen in March in around 78% of gardens. Their highest average monthly maximum count tends to come in February, with around 3.7 birds per garden.

Are Chaffinches increasing or declining in gardens?

Chaffinches have declined in gardens in recent years. Similar to Greenfinches, they have been affected by the disease Trichomonosis. However, it is not clear what has caused the steeper population decline that this species has suffered since 2012.

When do Chaffinches nest?

Chaffinches nest between April and July, and have up to two broods in a year. They tend to lay up to five eggs that are incubated for around 13 days. The young tend to fledge after another 14 days.

Do Chaffinches use nest boxes?

Chaffinches are not known to use nestboxes.

What can I do to help Chaffinches in my garden?

Provide food and a fresh, clean supply of water for them. Maintaining good bird feeder hygiene is also very important to help this species, as they are sadly quite susceptible to disease.

Did you know?

Chaffinches are sometimes known as the ‘Bachelor birds’, as some males winter in different areas than females. You can find out more about this and their movements in this article: 2010-chaffinch-article.pdf


This bird guide has been written in collaboration with experts at the British Trust for Ornithology. To find out more about their vital work, visit: