Pyrrhula pyrrhula (Linnaeus, 1758) BF BULLF 17100
Family: Passeriformes > Fringillidae

Bullfinch, John Harding

A fairly sedentary resident species, the Bullfinch is distributed widely across Britain & Ireland. The highest densities of this lovely bird are found in lowland wooded landscapes.

The male has a striking bright pink breast and neck, contrasting with a smart black cap. The females are duller, but still highly attractive birds. Bullfinches can often be seen at garden bird feeders, and in spring they will visit garden fruit trees to nibble the buds. Their call is a soft single whistle.

There was a steep decline in UK Bullfinch numbers at the end of the 1970s and, though there has been an upturn in the fortunes of this species more recently, the population is still around 40% lower than in the 1960s. It may be that declining habitat quality and decreasing numbers of large orchards are impacting the population.

Exploring the trends for Bullfinch

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Bullfinch population is changing.

trends explorer


Bullfinch identification is usually straightforward. The following article may help when identifying Bullfinch.

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Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Bullfinch, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Begging call

Flight call

Alarm call



Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses

Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.

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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



The UK Bullfinch population entered a long period of decline in the mid 1970s, following a period of relative stability. The decline was initially very steep, and more so in farmland than in wooded habitats, but became shallower and eventually ended around 2000, since when there has been some increase. CES and CBC/BBS both suggest there are large annual fluctuations around the overall long-term trend. The BBS map of change in relative density between 1994-96 and 2007-09 indicates that major decreases in southern and western parts of the UK over that period contrasted with increases in northern England and eastern Scotland. There has been a decline across Europe since 1980 (PECBMS: PECBMS 2020a>). The UK conservation listing was downgraded from red to amber in 2009 (Eaton et al. 2009).

Exploring the trends for Bullfinch

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Bullfinch population is changing.

trends explorer


Bullfinches are relatively sedentary in Britain & Ireland, with a wide distribution. Densities are highest in lowland wooded landscapes, particularly in Ireland, and lowest in large conurbations and in upland areas. Bullfinches are absent from open country with few trees, such as around the Wash, in exposed coastal regions in western Ireland, and on many Scottish islands.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2

Breeding Season Habitats

Relative frequency by habitat

Relative occurrence in different habitat types during the breeding season.

>Bar of similar size indicate the species is equally likely to be recorded in those habitats


Overall breeding range size has changed little since the 1968–72 Breeding Atlas but this conceals a mix of gains and losses. There have been recent gains in western Ireland, on some Inner Hebridean islands and in northern and western Scotland; some of these may reflect an increase in tree planting in these exposed locations. Losses are associated mostly with upland edges or with coastal areas.

Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Bullfinch is recorded throughout the year on up to 20% of complete lists.

Weekly occurence of Bullfinch from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Bullfinch ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Bullfinch, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Exploring the trends for Bullfinch

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Bullfinch population is changing.

trends explorer


View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report

Exploring the trends for Bullfinch

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Bullfinch population is changing.

trends explorer


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Corcan-coille
Welsh: Coch y Berllan
Catalan: pinsà borroner eurasiàtic
Czech: hýl obecný
Danish: Dompap
Dutch: Goudvink
Estonian: leevike
Finnish: punatulkku
French: Bouvreuil pivoine
German: Gimpel
Hungarian: süvölto
Icelandic: Dómpápi
Irish: Corcrán Coille
Italian: Ciuffolotto
Latvian: svilpis, smilgis
Lithuanian: juodagalve sniegena
Norwegian: Dompap
Polish: gil (zwyczajny)
Portuguese: dom-fafe
Slovak: hýl obycajný
Slovenian: kalin
Spanish: Camachuelo común
Swedish: domherre
Folkname: Alp, Nope


Interpretation and scientific publications about Bullfinch from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

The reasons for the decline of Bullfinch are unclear, although a recent study suggests that changes in adult survival might be important. Agricultural intensification is suspected to have played a part in the decline but other factors may also have contributed

Further information on causes of change

The demographic mechanism of decline remains unclear (Siriwardena et al. 1999, 2000b, 2001a), although a more recent study suggests that changes in adult survival may be important (Robinson et al. 2014). Agricultural intensification and a reduction in the structural and floristic diversity of woodland are suspected to have played a part through losses of food resources and nesting cover (Fuller et al. 2005). Alongside these factors, Proffitt et al. (2004) and Marquiss (2007) mention the constraints on survival outside the breeding season and the possible role of higher Sparrowhawk numbers on the ability of Bullfinches to exploit resources in some habitats. There have not been any significant changes to brood and clutch sizes or to nest failure rates.

Information about conservation actions

The reasons for the decline of this species are unclear and no clear links to environmental and land use changes in farmland have been identified, hence it is uncertain whether management actions and agri-environment options aimed at many other farmland species will benefit this species. Management of hedgerows and woodland understorey vegetation to provide habitat for may be important, but further work is required to identify specific habitat requirements so that more specific conservation actions can be tested and recommended.

Links to more information from ConservationEvidence.com

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