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Male Greenfinch
Male: Yellow-green with yellow wing bar and tail edges.
Female Greenfinch
Female: Like the male but greyer.

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 pale brown.

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


Scientific Name Carduelis chloris
Length 15 cm  (6")
Wing Span 25-28 cm  (10-11")
Weight 25-32 g  (1 oz)
Breeding Pairs 530000
Present All Year
Status Red

Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.


They have a wheezy song, "dzweee".

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


© Jean Roché,

© Jean Roché,


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.


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


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.


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.