March bird of the month – Bullfinch
Scientific name: Pyrrhula pyrrhula
July’s bird of the month is a fairly shy bird, and although their numbers are stable they can be fairly uncommon at feeders and bird tables.
The name “Bullfinch” comes from the bull-like and front-heavy head shape.
Bullfinches will typically live to 2-3 years.
- Feather colour – Male Bullfinches can be recognised by their pinky-purple plumage on their chest, black cap and face, grey back and black and white wing markings.
The females are considerably less colourful, having soft brown plumage on their chests, darker brown from their crowns continuing down their backs and the same black and white wing markings.
Female bullfinches are much less vibrant, having a earthy-yellow chest plumage, and brown feathers on their backs. Otherwise they have the same face, cap and wing colouring.
- Leg colour – they have a brown leg colouring.
- Beak – their beaks are black, short and thick.
Bullfinches measure 14.5-16.5cm in length, with a wingspan of 22- 26cm and weigh about 21-27g
Bullfinches have a soft piping call that carries far, often you will hear the bird but not necessarily see it. They were a favourite bird in the Victorian era to capture and keep in cages as they could be trained to imitate a whistle or bird flute.
From once a Bullfinch is a year old it will usually have only 1 brood of about 4 or 5 young, each year. Typically the Bullfinch will lay their eggs from late April to early May.
Bullfinches can be found around the UK in areas where broad-leaved trees can be found, unlike the Continental Bullfinches which prefer coniferous forest areas.
The Bullfinch will build their nests in a double construction of a interwoven fine grass cup supported by a twiggy base.
The Bullfinch has an “amber” conservation status in the UK meaning, they have suffered a moderate decline in recent history.
There are about 190,000 breeding pairs int he UK and the British birds are highly sedentary, seldom moving more than a few kilometres in their lifetime.
What they eat:
Once considered pests, Bullfinches feed voraciously on the buds of various trees in spring, Morello cherries and pears being their favourite.
This lead to them legally being trapped and killed as part of orchard management in the UK.
It has since been established that the fruit trees can lose up to half their buds without the harvest being affected, therefore the culls were considered unnecessary.
Other than seeds and buds, Bullfinches will catch insects during the summer period to feed their young.
If you’re looking to feed Bullfinches at your bird table, we suggest Sunflower seed 2.8kg £9.99
Keeping wild birds hydrated is essential, especially during the summer months so think about adding a water drinker such as this from Gardman for £7.99. As with water baths you will need to keep the drinker sterile to prevent the spread of diseases such as Trichomonosis (canker) which mostly affected doves, pigeons and finches.
Order bird care products online!
Keep the birds well fed by making the most of our click and collect order service. It’s simple – order online, select your slot date and collect!
Click here to see bird care items and more.
Looking for further advice?
Then why not pop into your local Scotsdales store today and speak with a member of our knowledgeable team. We will be happy to assist in any way we can with advice and guidance regarding the best options for birds in your garden.