Chaffinch Fact Sheet

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs )
A male chaffinch

Male Chaffinch

Male Chaffinch


Chaffinches eat a variety of seeds and scraps. They eat Peanuts granules and sunflower hearts.

They also eat


 Chaffinch is a seed eater and in the winter and autumn feeds in flocks on farmland

In the nesting season they they forage in trees and bushes, hunting for spiders, caerpillars, flies and other inverterbrates. Chaffinches also have the ability to feed on flying insects by snatching them from the sky.

Chaffinches feed on birdtables and garden feeders all year round.

The chaffinch can be identified by it’s short , thick bill and white wing marking bars.

Males in spring, are very colourful. They have blue grey crowns, nape and bill, olive green rump, and pink underparts

Females are plain but they do have white wingbars. Upperparts are olive borwn. underparts pale greyish.
Adult chaffinches moult in early Autumn and from then on, through the winter they are a paler colour.

When Spring comes round again the male’s pink face and body and blue grey crown returns – its’ breeding plumage.

In flight the chaffinch closes its wings completely (this is inbetween flapping it’s wings). When the chaffinch closes its wings completely it rises and falls in the air . It is that undulating flight that help identify the chaffinch in flight.

The chaffinch can be found nearly everwhere where are are trees. It is a woodland bird but also lives in gardens and parks.


Length 14.5 cm (6 inches)
Wing span 24.5-28.5cm (10-11 1/2 inches).
Weight 18-29g. ( 3/4 – 1 0z)
EGGS: pale blue with pink and brownish speckling.

INCUBATION: 11-13 days. The female chaffince is responsible for the incubation.

BREEDING: April to July. Usually only have one brood.

FLEDGING: 12-14 days.

NEST: the nest is a lichen and cobweb covered nest. It is made of grass and moss. Usually made in a fork in a tree and is lined with feathers and rootlets.

It is the female that decorates the outer part of the nest with lichens and spiders webs. She is also solely in charge of building the nest.

When the famila Chaffinch begins to nest build she ties parts of spiders web around twigs. Moss and grass is then added. She then puts more nesting material into finish the nest.

(I would love to see a chaffinch decorating her home with litchen and spiders webs. It sounds like something out of a story book)

Many garden birds like to nest in trees. The chaffinch is one of them. Putting up nest boxes encourages breeding and helps many birds. I do not have any information about nest box sizes for chaffinches. They usually nest in orchards, hedgerows, gardens and trees.


Alarm call is ‘pink, pink’.
The song sounds like ‘chip, chip, chip, chooee, chooee, cheeoo.
The male chaffinch sings all the time during the breeding season. Sings a small number of song phrases. They are usually sung in the same order.
Chaffinches in different parts of England have different ‘dialect’ songs . We may not be able to tell the different. The difference in their song means they only attract chaffinches with the same song who are from the same local area. There may be a survival reason here. If two chaffinches from the same area breed they will know the area and a local female will be more likely to breed in an environment she knows. A strange chaffinch would have to take time to get to know the area and where the food was. This seems logical anyway.

Almost the whole of Europe. Males do not move as far as the females in winter. Males stay near their breeding grounds.

Males and females often separate in winter.


So the chaffinches that visit our gardens are more than likely to have made the area their home.

I sometimes wonder how many generations of birds I’ve fed over the past ten to 15 years.

Chaffinches often visit my garden and feeders. I take them a bit for granted. (Maybe they take me for granted as well! Or take the food I put out for granted)

I’ll keep on feeding the birds. It’s good to see the sparrows, chaffinches and blackbirds mingling on the lawn.

Feed the Birds!!

If  you have any more ‘chaffinch information’ I’d love to know.



17 thoughts on “Chaffinch Fact Sheet

  1. Trish Post author

    I don’t know! I’ve never ever heard of one, but will ask around

    Can I ask what you have seen to make you ask this question. Trisha

  2. peter egan

    For the last two years we have had a male Chaffinch coming to our windows and pecking on them as if wanting to attract our attention. Strange thing is he only pecks at a window if he can see us so if we are not in one of the downstairs rooms he flies to the upstairs windows till he finds us then starts pecking away? If we go towards the window he flies off but comes back almost immediatley. Have you heard of this before?

  3. Trish Post author

    Hi, thanks for getting in touch. This is really interesting. I have never, ever heard of such a thing!

    I’m amazed. This chaffinch is using it’s brain and realises that it can see you through windows. It is following you round the house!

    I’ll never call anyone bird brain again.

    Do you put bird food out. Could it be that it is trying to attract your attention because the bird feeders are empty. Maybe it is starving and wants food. That is the only explanation I can think of.

    Many years ago I forgot to put bird food out for two days when it was really snowing. I was walking towards the gate and a bird was perched on top of the gate ‘spitting’ and ‘chirping’ frantically. As I walked towards it it just kept looking at me and ‘spitting and chirping’. That is the only way I can describe it.

    I suddenly remembered I had forgotten the bird food. I quickly put some out and my garden was full of birds.

    That is one reason I can think of.

    Another reason is that for some unexplicable reason it has become attached to you and your family.

    Has anyone else any ideas?

    I have put this as a post and am going to ask on some bird forums that I belong to.

    Will be in touch. Trisha

  4. Dave

    I had a friend who had a similar experience. A male chaffinchwhich repeatedly flew up to and pecked at the windows as though there was something it was asking for. It performed this behaviour for weeks on end….

  5. Fred Mason

    I had a couple mallards visiting when I lived in a remote cottage in Scotland. They would fly in for bread cubes every day which eventually they ate from my hand., but when I didn’t see them arrive the female would waddle around the cottage and jump up on the window sill to the living room where I was sitting and tap until I went around to the front door and fed them.

  6. Fred Mason

    By the way, just took a couple of photos of a white bird in my back garden in Cumbria which I believe is a chaffinch/greenfinch. How do I post a pic?

  7. Trish Post author

    What a lovely story. It goes to show that birds take advantage of all sorts of ways to get food. But Mallards! It must have been lovely for you

  8. clare russell

    ive noticed the chaffinches have trouble hanging on to feeders where other types have no trouble

  9. Tim Lester

    Hi Trish, where do Chaffinches nest in the winter? Do they use nesting boxes to keep out of the cold wet weather?


  10. Annette

    For three days now a chaffinch has been fluttering its wings whilst hovering before my car mirror, then perching on the mirror. Now and again it sits on the branch of some wisteria nearby, to recuperate, I think. There are marks made by its beak on the mirror. I think it must believe there is another bird there in the mirror. Perhaps he is looking for a mate.

  11. Bruce

    I have a similar problem to Peter Egan in that a chaffinch keeps pecking at my patio windows and if I move to another room it follows me and again pecks at that window. It’s been doing this every day for weeks! I’ve read all the Webb advice I can find but apart from removing all my feeders there seems to be no easily practical solution.

  12. Trish Post author

    Hello, I think it is something to do with a reflection. What happens if you draw the curtains? Here are what has happened in the past.

    I don’t know why it happens. As I said I just think it could be something to do with a relection it sees.

    I don’t think there is an easy solution.

  13. Rachel

    There is a certain chaffinch that like to peak at my bedroom window every morning. But we haven’t been cooking anything that attracts them. Why are they peaking at the windows?

  14. CAroline

    I have a male chaffinch repeatedly pecking at the car wing mirror and window on one side of my car, I am sure it can see its reflection!

  15. peter lewis

    I have just had experiences as described above , a male chaffinch has always followed me around , this morning he flew to the window where I was at and on the off chance I opened my door and held a handful of sunflower seeds out ,and blow me down he just flew and sat on my hand for ..until I got fed up ! I easily get robins and nuthatches and the tit family to feed of the hand but never ever a chaffinch !

  16. Trish Post author

    A chaffinch sat on your hand!! This is amazing. it must certainly feel at home in your garden.

    How different some people act.
    I have just been reading about how some of Britains housing developers put netting over rows of trees and cocoon hedgerows near building sites. It is to stop birds nesting. BUT, of course, a lot of birds are trapped inside and die. How many young in nests die as a result of this as well.

    If birds are nesting in hedges or trees in the nesting season, it is an offence to disturb or destroy the nest. This means building work will be stopped.

    How different it is here in my garden,( and everyone who reads this as well i should think. ) 3 nest boxes being used near my garden. 4 bird tables and 2 different bags of bird food being used to put on these bird tables. All sorts of garden birds zipping in and out of the hedge and flying on waves of wind.
    If I looked out of my window and saw birds trapped inside the hedge by netting i would take if off straight away.
    This is the first time I have wondered if humans deserve to be on Planet Earth!

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