Wildlife In Focus | Eurasian Bullfinch

David Coultham

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Species Guide: Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)

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Video | Everything You Need To Know About The Eurasian Bullfinch

Conservation Status

Bullfinch numbers have declined significantly in the U.K., with estimates supporting up to a 40% reduction since the 1970s. The reason for this has not been proven scientifically, although loss of natural habitat and the increase in agricultural activity over the last few decades is suspected as a contributory factor.

Consequently they are registered as an Amber species in the U.K. Globally they are registered as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature

Conservation Status

Conservation Status


Adult Bullfinches eat seeds and buds. They feed their chicks invertebrates. Historically, their habit of eating buds lead to them being classed as pests within the agricultural industry.

Did You Know? Bullfinches preferred food are flower buds, and they can eat up to 30 buds per minute!

credit: WildMediaSK


They prefer broadleaf, coniferous and scrub habitats, but can be found across much of the mainland UK during the summer. In winter, the UK population are joined by migrants from mainland Europe which migrate across to some of the Scottish Isles.

Note that this map is for a rough illustration of animal distribution across the UK1, whereby light green indicates established populations. The blue areas indicate where there are additional migrant winter residents.


Both the male and female birds have a black cap which extends all the way around their head and bill. They have black wings and tail and a grey and white back. The males sport a rose-red chest which is particularly noticeable during the breeding season.

credit: WildMediaSK


Bullfinches are extremely shy, in particular around humans. Their calls are also quite discreet compared to some of the other members of the finch family. So discreet in fact, that you are more likely to see a Bullfinch before you hear one!

Bullfinch Call:

Art Villem Adojaan, xeno-canto.org

They nest in the late spring/early summer, and will typically have up to two broods per year. They build their nests from twigs, moss and lichen. They have a clutch size of up to 5 eggs which are incubated by the female for up to 16 days. Bullfinches have evolved a food sac in the floor of their mouth. This allows them to travel longer distances in search of food to bring back to the nest. They are the only member of the finch family to have this biological feature. Once hatched, the young are fully fledged after a further 15 to 16 days.


Wing Length79-86 mm (3.11-3.39 inches)
Weight20-25.6 grams (0.71-0.9 ounces)
Lifespan2 years (typical)
Feather data2

Did You Know? The oldest recorded Bullfinch was over 9 years old!


The Sparrowhawk is the main predator of the Bullfinch. It is thought that higher numbers of Sparrowhawk’s may have contributed to the decline of Bullfinch numbers in the U.K. The nests of Bullfinches are also subject to predation; in particular by mammals.


  1. Population data based on BTO assessment
  2. Featherbase
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