British Wildlife Wiki

The Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes), is a passerine bird in the finch family .

Hawfinch 2 (S

Hawfinch - Stephen Allen

This bird breeds across Europe and temperate Asia. It is mainly resident in Europe, but many Asian birds migrate further south in the winter. It is a rare vagrant to the western islands of Alaska.

Deciduous or mixed woodland ,including parkland, with large trees - especially Hornbeam - is favoured for breeding,. The Hawfinch builds its nest in a bush or tree, and lays 2-7 eggs. The food is mainly seeds and fruit kernels, especially those of cherries, which it cracks with its powerful bill.

This large finch species does not form large flocks outside the breeding season, and is usually seen in a pair or small group.

The 16.5–18 cm long Hawfinch is a bulky bull-headed bird, which appears very short-tailed in flight. Its head is orange-brown with a black eyestripe and bib, and a massive bill, which is black in summer but paler in winter. The upper parts are dark brown and the underparts orange.

The white wing bars and tail tip are striking in flight. The sexes are similar. The call is a hard chick. The song of this unobtrusive bird is quiet and mumbled.

Where Hawfinches can be found in the UK[]

Southeast England[]

Southeast England is the stronghold of Hawfinch in Britain. One well-known site is Bedgebury Pinetum, where flocks gather to roost in winter. The species is also found in the New Forest; a central roost site exists here, at the Blackwater Arboretum.

Southwest England[]

In Devon, Hawfinch is largely confined to the upper Teign Valley.

Western England and Wales[]

Two areas in which Hawfinch reliably occurs are the Forest of Dean and the Wyre Forest.

Eastern England[]

Hawfinch is present in the Breckland of East Anglia.

Northern England[]

Hawfinches are regularly found in a small number of locations in northern England. Prime sites include Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire and Hulne Park in Northumberland. Hawfinches can be seen at Cromford Derbyshire near the canal and at Clumber Park (Nottinghamshire) near the chapel.


Scone Palace near Perth is the most well-known site in Scotland for Hawfinch. Formerly, they also occurred in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.