Lovely male bullfinch on our sunflower hearts this morning…

Although it was on our list of predictions it was still a fantastic surprise to have a bullfinch turn up on Christmas eve. With its bright colours it was easy to identify as a male and, although not with us for long, he spent his time on the birdtable and in the trees at the far end of the garden.

Despite being one of our bulkier looking  finches, the bullfinch is quite a shy bird, its distinctive white rump usually being the first and last sight while out birding along our local lanes. The best way to find one,especially in the breeding season, is to learn its wonderfully plaintive call, a sound that almost not there and again, not really in proportion with its size.

Food wise, like most finches, they are dedicated seed eaters, feeding on ash and elm as well as lower herbaceous plants such as nettle, dock and dog’s mercury. They are also notorious for eating flower buds in spring, a habit that decades ago brought them in to conflict with fruit growers and led to mass culls of the birds. This has now ceased, but the species has subsequently faced greater problems due to the changes brought about by changing agricultural methods and has experienced severe declines over the past 25 years.

In the garden, bullfinches were once a rare sight, but the introduction of sunflower seeds for garden birds in the 1990’s brought a steady increase in sightings.

Since its first appearance, both a male and female have been visiting the garden regularly.


  1. Hi there Tony 🙂

    Great to see a video of the bullfinch. I’d love to see one in my garden. We get chaffinches, greenfinches, goldfinches and siskins – maybe one day a bullfinch will pop by too 😀

    All the best with your new blog 😀

  2. We too live in Beautiful Devon and have over the last two weeks had a couple of visits from the Male Bullfinch to our Garden. He did not visit the feeders (of which there are plenty) offerinf a variety of choice. He opted to sit in the small ornamental Cherry tree. he was either eating small bugs from it or nibbling at the early forming buds themselves. He may of been drinking the rain droplets that were forming on the underside.
    Then only this weekend with the RSPB birdwatch in action in our household we were treated to a lone visit from the Female. She didn’t stay long but visited the peanut and seed feeders.
    Good to see your Visit list, I too recently posted one on my blog http://imagesofthewest.blogspot.com/ we have pretty similar results.

  3. goldcrest23

    Hi Greg, thanks for the comment. Although not regular, our two bullfinches turn up from time to time, both on the feeders and birdtable. They’ll probably be around this coming weekend as it turns colder. all the best Tony

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  • About

    In this blog we'll describe the day to day comings and goings of the birds in our Devon garden.
  • About us

    Tony is a naturalist and environmental artist. Laura is a free range creative web and print designer. We've recently moved from the village of Ipplepen to the town of Newton Abbot with our two children Ralph and Oli, our dog Henry, and numerous cats (none of whom would ever dream of eating birds).
  • Species List

    List of species, including only those birds that land in the garden:
    Blue tit
    Carrion Crow
    Chiff chaff
    Coal tit
    Collared dove
    Great spotted woodpecker
    Great tit
    House Sparrow
    Long tailed tit
    Mistle thrush
    Pied wagtail
    Song thrush
    Wood pigeon

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