Coccothraustes coccothraustes (Linnaeus, 1758) HF HAWFI 17170
Family: Passeriformes > Fringillidae

Hawfinch, Edmund Fellowes

A large orange-brown finch shaped like a rotund Starling, the Hawfinch possesses a massive beak for cracking hard-stoned fruit.

The Hawfinch has been Red-listed in the UK since 2009 because of recent breeding decline. Its breeding range is restricted to disparate sites, mostly in England and Wales. The species' winter range is bigger, with individuals found in northern Scotland and Ireland.

Generally nesting in mature woodland in the UK, the flocking instinct of the Hawfinch is often observed where they feed and during winter roosts (if you are lucky enough to see a Hawfinch then there is probably at least one other nearby). In winter, Hawfinch numbers are increased by influxes from northern Europe, which are bigger in some years than in others.


Hawfinch identification is often straightforward.


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


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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.



This species is difficult to monitor due its scarcity and elusive behaviour, but analysis of county bird reports suggested the population increased in the 1970s and early 1980s but decreased in the 1990s (Langston et al. 2002). This decline has continued subsequently and the distribution of the species in the UK has declined substantially over the last fifty years (Balmer et al. 2013). The Hawfinch was consequently added to the Rare Breeding Birds Panel list in 2006, and the current breeding population of Hawfinch is likely to be around 1,000 pairs (Eaton et al. 2021).


Hawfinches are a scarce breeder in Britain with a highly fragmented breeding distribution associated with larger tracts of mature broad-leaved and mixed woodland; it is more than three times more widespread in winter. In Ireland it does not breed and is only an irregular winter visitor.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


Between 1968–72 and 2008–11 the breeding range of the Hawfinch contracted by 76% in Britain, although the majority of losses occured since the 1988–91 Breeding Atlas. Losses are most concentrated in southeast England but extend into southeast Scotland. Although not monitored at a national scale, several sources point to a sustained population decline. In contrast, the British winter range has expanded by 28% expansion since the 1981–84 Winter Atlas, with gains most prevalent along the southwestern fringe of the range.

Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Hawfinch is a localised winter visitor, passage migrant and rare breeder. Autumn passage peaks in late October.

Weekly occurence of Hawfinch 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 Hawfinch 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 Hawfinch, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


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

Gaelic: Glaisean-gobach
Welsh: Gylfinbraff
Catalan: durbec comú
Czech: dlask tlustozobý
Danish: Kernebider
Dutch: Appelvink
Estonian: suurnokk-vint e. suurnokk
Finnish: nokkavarpunen
French: Gros-bec casse-noyaux
German: Kernbeißer
Hungarian: meggyvágó
Icelandic: Kjarnbítur
Irish: Glasán Gobmhór
Italian: Frosone
Latvian: dižknabis, svirpis
Lithuanian: svilikas
Norwegian: Kjernebiter
Polish: grubodziób (zwyczajny)
Portuguese: bico-grossudo
Slovak: glezg obycajný
Slovenian: dlesk
Spanish: Picogordo común
Swedish: stenknäck
Folkname: Grosbeak


Interpretation and scientific publications about Hawfinch from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

The causes of the decline in the UK are not yet known and the decline contrasts with mainland Europe where numbers have remained stable (PECBMS). Habitat loss, habitat degradation and predation have been suggested as possible causes of decline in the UK but have not been fully investigated (Langston et al. 2002). Based on the distribution from the most recent Bird Atlas (2008–11) Hawfinches are most likely to have persisted in areas with high woodland cover and where there has not been recent woodland management, although the presence of open areas within woodlands is important (Kirby et al. 2015). Although recent estimates from the Nest Record Scheme have suggested nest productivity may be low, nest success rate is unlikely to be the cause of decline as nest success rates during an intensive study across two areas in 2013–17 were similar to that from other studies of Hawfinch or similar species (Kirby et al. 2018); hence survival (of fledglings or adults) is more likely to be driving the UK decline.

Links to more information from ConservationEvidence.com

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