Pyrrhula pyrrhula

The Bullfinch is an unobtrusive but beautiful woodland bird, and an occasional garden visitor.



Female left, and male right Bullfinch pair

Female left, and male right Bullfinch pair

Bullfinch (male) in flight

Bullfinch (male) in flight

Close up of a Bullfinch eating berries

Close up of a Bullfinch eating berries

Appearance & Identification

The Bullfinch is a distinctive, thick-set finch with different plumages between sexes and age groups. They are relatively easy to identify, although the non-descript juveniles can pose a challenge.

What do Bullfinches look like?

The adult male Bullfinch is a dashing little bird with a pink belly, chest, and cheeks. It has a black cap that starts under the chin and extends to the nape of the neck, and the tail and flight feathers are black.

Females have similar plumage but have grey-brown underparts and a brownish back. Both sexes have a prominent white wing bar, stout black bills, black eyes, and dark legs. The vent area is pure white, and they show a bright white rump in flight.

<p><strong>Male Bullfinch</strong></p>

Male Bullfinch

<p><strong>Female Bullfinch</strong></p>

Female Bullfinch

Juveniles are primarily brown and lack the black cap of adults. Their wings and tails are dark, and a whitish bar is visible across each wing. Their most distinctive feature is a bold white or off-white rump.

The adult male Chaffinch is superficially similar to the male Bullfinch as both birds have pink underparts, although these common birds have brown backs and lack the black crown, face, and bill of the Bullfinch.

Juvenile Bullfinch

Juvenile Bullfinch

How big are Bullfinches?

The Bullfinch is a small (slightly larger than a Robin) but stoutly built finch with a large head and bill.


Most adult Bullfinches have a total body length between 14 and 16 centimetres. These stocky birds have a short bill and neck but a moderately long tail.


These birds can weigh up to 38 grams, although most individuals in the UK weigh between 21 and 27 grams.


These large finches have a wingspan of 22 to 26 centimetres.

Bullfinches are small birds, slightly larger than Robins

Bullfinches are small birds, slightly larger than Robins

Calls & Sounds

Both male and female Bullfinches sing although males are the more vocal sex.

What sound does a Bullfinch make?

Bullfinches have a soft but pleasant song. It is somewhat variable between individuals, and its notes are best described as ‘Peeu’ or ‘deu’, often interspersed with piping whistles.

Bullfinch Call

Simon Elliott, XC602105. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/602105.


The Bullfinch’s stout bill is ideal for its vegetarian diet, and its habit of foraging in orchards has brought them into conflict with farmers. Continue reading to learn more about the Bullfinch diet.

What do Bullfinches eat?

The Bullfinch is primarily vegetarian, although they will eat small insects like beetles, moths, and aphids. Their principal foods are seeds, buds, and shoots.

Bullfinches favour flower buds in the winter and spring, and they can cause considerable damage to fruit crops like pears, apples, gooseberries, cherries, and plums. Unfortunately, this habit has given them pest status among farmers.

Check out our guide on the diet of a Bullfinch, including general feeding behaviour, as well as what to feed them.

What do Bullfinch chicks eat?

Baby Bullfinches eat insects and other invertebrates supplied by both parents. They are fed for the two weeks they spend in the nest and up to 20 days after fledging.

Bullfinch eating berries

Bullfinch eating berries

Did you know?

A single bullfinch can eat 30 or more fruit buds in a minute.

Habitat & Distribution

Would you like to see a Bullfinch? Read this section to learn where Bullfinches live and which habitats they prefer.

What is the habitat of a Bullfinch?

Bullfinches are primarily a lowland species, avoiding uplands and open country in the breeding season. They are most common in deciduous woodlands, hedgerows, orchards, and thickets, although they also visit parks and gardens in the United Kingdom.

What is the range of a Bullfinch?

Bullfinches are widespread in the United Kingdom and Ireland, although they are absent from parts of northern Scotland. Elsewhere the species is widespread across Europe to Japan and the Kamchatka Peninsula in the east.

Where do Bullfinches live?

Bullfinches spend most of their time in trees and other vegetation. They forage amongst the foliage, only occasionally descending to the ground or a bird table.

Bullfinch searching for a drink of water

Bullfinch searching for a drink of water

How rare are Bullfinches?

Bullfinches have declined by over 30% since the 1970s. However, the breeding population is estimated at 190,000 to 265,000 pairs and are still fairly numerous.

Where can you see Bullfinches in the UK?

Bullfinches are occasional garden birds in the UK, and some fortunate birdwatchers enjoy seeing these fine finches very close to home. They are widespread, and a quiet walk along a woodland edge in the countryside can be productive.

Signs and spotting tips

The bullfinch is quite shy and retiring, almost unobtrusive. Its white rump shows well during flight, which is fast with long undulations. Even from a distance, the bullfinch can be recognised by its plump body and broad neck.

They are known for their quiet, almost sluggish behaviour. Often seen in pairs or loose flocks.

Bullfinch (female) in flight

Bullfinch (female) in flight

Lifespan & Predation

How long do Bullfinches live?

Bullfinches are relatively short-lived birds with an average lifespan of about two years.

What are the predators of Bullfinches?

Bullfinches are vulnerable to many small predators. Sparrowhawks and domestic cats will take adults, while Jays, Carrion Crows, and stoats will eat eggs and chicks.

Are Bullfinches protected?

Bullfinches are protected in the United Kingdom by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Are Bullfinches endangered?

The Bullfinch is not endangered. It has an amber conservation status in the UK due to significant declines over the last few decades but remains widespread and fairly common. They are ranked globally as a ‘Least Concern’ species.

Male Bullfinch perched in a tree

Male Bullfinch perched in a tree

Nesting & Breeding

The Bullfinch is a breeding resident in the United Kingdom. Nesting occurs in the spring and summer, and successful pairs may produce up to three broods in a single season.

Where do Bullfinches nest?

Bullfinches usually hide their nest in thick vegetation like hawthorn hedges, where they are well protected from nest predators. They will also build on level branches of trees like yews and spruces. Unfortunately, these shy birds rarely nest in gardens.

What do Bullfinch eggs look like?

Bulffinches lay four to six blueish eggs with darker purple and brown markings.

Do Bullfinches mate for life?

Bullfinches are monogamous and maintain their pair bond throughout the year. In practice, this often means they mate for life since their average lifespan is just two years.

Bullfinch nest with four eggs inside

Bullfinch nest with four eggs inside

Did you know?

During the breeding season, adults develop cheek pouches which allow them to store more food and therefore leave the nest less often.


Are Bullfinches aggressive?

Despite their intimidating name, Bullfinches are fairly gregarious birds. They occur in small flocks, particularly in the non-breeding season, and juveniles may form small groups in the autumn. However, they value their personal space and react aggressively towards others that get too close.

Bullfinch females are dominant over males, which is quite unusual among songbirds. Females will attack males at times, but males do not return the aggression. Males will fight amongst themselves, particularly when guarding their partners against other males.

Female (left) and male (right) Eurasian Bullfinches perched on a branch

Female (left) and male (right) Eurasian Bullfinches perched on a branch


The UK climate is suitable for Bullfinches throughout the year, but harsh winters force them to migrate elsewhere in their range. Read on to learn more about Bullfinch movements and migrations.

Do Bullfinches migrate?

Bullfinches can be seen throughout the year in the United Kingdom. They are a resident breeding species, although small numbers may arrive in the winter from Scandinavia for the non-breeding season. The species is migratory and partially migratory elsewhere in Asia and Eastern Europe.

Are Bullfinches native to the UK?

Bullfinches are native to the United Kingdom. Their bright colours and ability to mimic tunes made them popular caged birds in the 19th century.

Bullfinch at a feeder, eating sunflower seeds

Bullfinch at a feeder, eating sunflower seeds


How to attract Bullfinches

Bullfinches are generally uncommon garden birds and have been reported from about one in ten UK gardens. They are most likely to visit well-wooded gardens, particularly in rural areas with nearby woodlands.

One way to attract Bullfinches is to grow fruit trees that provide a natural food source, although they will occasionally visit bird tables, especially if sunflower seeds are on offer. Providing a bird bath or other fresh water source is another way to attract them and many other garden birds.

What is a group of Bullfinches called?

Known collective nouns for a group of Bullfinches are as follows:

  • a bellowing of bullfinches
  • a lowing of bullfinches
  • a volery of bullfinches

General collective nouns for a group of Finches may also be used:

  • a charm of finches
  • a chirm of finches
  • a company of finches
  • a trembling of finches
  • a trimming of finches

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Quick Facts


Scientific name:

Pyrrhula pyrrhula

Other names:

Eurasian Bullfinch, Common Bullfinch



Conservation status:




14.5cm to 16cm


22cm to 26cm


21g to 38g

Learn more about the Bullfinch

Similar birds to a Bullfinch

Other birds in the Finches family

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