British Garden Birds Site Map Album Info Quiz Shop Links About Visit us on facebook

(European) Serin

Male Serin
Male: Small, bright yellow finch with darker streaked upperparts.

Female: Like the male but duller.

The Serin is a rare summer and passage visitor to southern England, usually seen in the spring and autumn.

Serins are small, short-billed yellow finches that may be confused with Siskins, juvenile Greenfinches and Canaries. Siskins and Greenfinches are both larger.

The male has green streaked upperparts and whitish underparts, which are also streaked on the flanks. The rump, head and breast are bright yellow.

The female is duller and browner.

Juveniles are brown-buff and heavily streaked.

The tail is deeply forked and the bill and legs are pale brown.

Scientific Name Serinus serinus
Length 11 cm  (4½")
Wing Span 20-23 cm  (8-9")
Weight 11-14 g  (½ oz)
Breeding Pairs < 2
Present Spring & Autumn
Status Former Breeder

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


Typically, the call is a series of twittering notes and the song is a longer version. The notes are often described as sounding like "crushing glass".


© Jean Roché,


Serins feed on seeds, especially those of weeds, birch, and alder.


Since 1967 there have been a number of birds attempting to breed in southern England.

The female builds the nest, which is usually in a tree or bush in open woodland, scrub, or gardens. A few only breed in Britain and then usually along the south coast of England.

The nest is a neatly constructed cup of stems, roots, and moss that is lined with feathers and hair.

The hen lays and incubates eggs that are smooth, glossy and pale light blue with purplish speckles. The eggs are about 17 mm long. Both parents feed the young after they have hatched.

Breeding Starts Clutches Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
May 2 3-5 13 14


In Europe, Serins migrate south in the autumn, returning in the spring, and this is when they are most likely to be seen in Britain.


This species has been spreading north through Europe for hundreds of years and it looked as though it was going to colonise Britain but has not done so. The Serin is a Amber-listed species of conservation concern owing to the small number of breeding pairs.