The British Trust for Ornithology
CHAFFINCH
Fringilla coelebs
Chaffinch © Tommy Holden
Conservation listings

Unlisted/Green
Biodiversity Steering Group: Unlisted

Long-term trend
UK: Shallow increase
 
Status summary
Chaffinch abundance increased rapidly during the 1970s and 1980s, but numbers seem to have stabilised since 1990 as indicated by the CBC, CES and BBS indices. This period of population stability has been associated with a reduction in annual survival, which could be a density-dependent effect (Siriwardena et al. 1999). There is also some evidence of improvement in breeding performance during the population increase (declines in egg-stage nest failure rates and increased brood sizes). Trends in laying date may be partially explained by recent climate change (Crick & Sparks 1999). Chaffinches are well adapted to suburban and garden habitats, as well as highly fragmented woodland and hedgerows, so may have benefitted from the environmental changes from which other seed-eating passerines have suffered. They are also less dependent upon the open-field, cropped habitats that have been affected most by agricultural intensification.
 
 
Table of population changes for Chaffinch
Source Period
(yrs)
Years Plots
(n)
Change
(%)
Lower
limit
Upper
limit
Alert Comment
CBC all habitats 31 1968-1999 216 26 13 43    
  25 1974-1999 225 26 17 38    
  10 1989-1999 214 3 -2 8    
  5 1994-1999 218 5 2 10    
CBC farmland 31 1968-1999 94 36 21 53    
  25 1974-1999 94 32 19 43    
  10 1989-1999 94 9 2 15    
  5 1994-1999 94 11 5 16    
CBC woodland 31 1968-1999 85 5 -14 38    
  25 1974-1999 92 14 -2 36    
  10 1989-1999 98 -2 -9 5    
  5 1994-1999 101 1 -5 6    
CES adults 15 1984-1999 77 8 . .    
  10 1989-1999 89 0 . .    
  5 1994-1999 96 -11 . .    
CES juveniles 15 1984-1999 56 42 . .    
  10 1989-1999 66 1 . .    
  5 1994-1999 72 -13 . .    
BBS UK 6 1994-2000 1791 6 3 10    
BBS England 6 1994-2000 1388 6 3 9    
BBS Scotland 6 1994-2000 192 9 -2 20    
BBS Wales 6 1994-2000 145 -14 -22 -4    
BBS N.Ireland 6 1994-2000 57 89 43 150    
The Breeding Bird Survey is jointly funded by BTO, JNCC and RSPB
 

 
Table of productivity information for Chaffinch
Variable Period
(yrs)
Years Mean
annual
sample
Trend Predicted
in first year
Predicted
in last year
Change Comment
Clutch size 31 1968-1999 88 None        
Brood size 31 1968-1999 141 None        
Daily failure rate (eggs) 31 1968-1999 167 None        
Daily failure rate (chicks) 31 1968-1999 117 None        
Laying date 31 1968-1999 113 Curvilinear day 130 day 121 -9 days  
Percentage juveniles (CES) 15 1984-1999 82 Smoothed trend 101 productivity index 100 productivity index -1%  
Percentage juveniles (CES) 10 1989-1999 95 Smoothed trend 117 productivity index 100 productivity index -15%  
Percentage juveniles (CES) 5 1994-1999 102 Smoothed trend 102 productivity index 100 productivity index -2%  
 




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This report should be cited as:
Baillie, S.R., Crick, H.Q.P., Balmer, D.E., Beaven, L.P., Downie, I.S., Freeman, S.N., Leech, D.I., Marchant, J.H.,
Noble, D.G., Raven, M.J., Simpkin, A.P., Thewlis, R.M. and Wernham, C.V.
(2002) Breeding Birds in the Wider
Countryside: their conservation status 2001. BTO Research Report No. 278. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends)

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