Linaria flavirostris (Linnaeus, 1758) TW TWITE 16620
Family: Passeriformes > Fringillidae

Twite, Graham Catley

This small, brown finch with a yellow bill and pink rump is very much a bird of coastal fringes and higher ground.

There is little colouration difference between the males and females though males do tend to be more brightly marked. The Twite has a northerly breeding distribution in Britain & Ireland, and is often referred to as the ‘Linnet of the north’. However, during the winter months it may be found on southerly coasts seeking out the small seeds that can gather on the tideline of saltmarsh and dune.

The Twite has been Red-listed in the UK since 1996 due to a reduction in its breeding population. Its small breeding population is supplemented in winter by birds arriving from elsewhere in Europe.


Twite identification is sometimes difficult. The following article may help when identifying Twite.

related video

Identifying Linnet and Twite

Linnet. Photograph by Edmund Fellowes

Linnets are familiar birds, but their scarcer cousins Twite are always a good find. Either on their usually remote breeding grounds in northern and western Britain, or around our coasts in winter, picking Twite out from Linnets can be a real ID headache. Let this workshop help you do that with confidence.


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



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 status of breeding Twite in the UK is uncertain but evidence collected from various sources including county bird reports suggests that a substantial decline has occurred in England since the 1970s (Raine et al. 2009) and the number of occupied squares in Britain declined by 19% between 1968–72 and 2008–11 (Balmer et al. 2013). A baseline survey of breeding Twite in the UK came up with an estimate of approximately 10,000 pairs in 1999 (Langston et al. 2006). A repeat survey in 2013 suggests that a moderate decline may have occurred since 1999; the 2013 survey came up with an estimate of 7,831 pairs with 97.6% of the population in Scotland (Wilkinson et al. 2018). The UK wide population decline between 1999 and 2013 was not statistically significant, however, although a significant decline of 72% had occurred in England.


Breeding Twites have been declining for several decades and the distribution may now be less extensive than these maps from 2008–11 suggest. At that time Twites bred throughout the Northern Isles and close to the western seaboard of Scotland, with inland upland populations primarily in the Scottish Highlands and the Pennines. A few pairs remained in North Wales, the Southern Uplands and the coastal fringes of northwest Ireland. Highest densities were in Shetland, Orkney and Caithness and on the Hebrides and their adjacent mainland coast. In winter birds aggregate on the Northern Isles, especially Orkney, and the Hebrides between North Uist and Islay. Further south, large estuaries such as Morecambe Bay, the Humber and the Wash have traditionally attracted substantial flocks to feed in saltmarshes, but these too are declining.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


The Twites breeding range has contracted by 80% in Ireland and by 19% in Britain since the 1968–72 Breeding Atlas. The Irish winter range has also contracted, by 30%. Surprisingly, given the population trajectory, the winter range in Britain has expanded by 19%.

Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Twite is a localised and declining breeder and winter visitor.

Weekly occurence of Twite 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 Twite 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 Twite, 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: Gealan-beinne
Welsh: Llinos y Mynydd
Catalan: passerell becgroc
Czech: konopka žlutozobá
Danish: Bjergirisk
Dutch: Frater
Estonian: mägi-kanepilind
Finnish: vuorihemppo
French: Linotte à bec jaune
German: Berghänfling
Hungarian: sárgacsoru kenderike
Icelandic: Lyngfinka
Irish: Gleoiseach Sléibhe
Italian: Fanello nordico
Latvian: kalnu kegis
Lithuanian: geltonsnapis civylis
Norwegian: Bergirisk
Polish: rzepoluch
Portuguese: pintarroxo-de-bico-amarelo
Slovak: stehlík horský
Slovenian: severni repnik
Spanish: Pardillo piquigualdo
Swedish: vinterhämpling
Folkname: Mountain Linnet


Interpretation and scientific publications about Twite from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

The drivers of declines in Twite populations are uncertain and further research is needed. Potential factors could include conversion of hay meadows to pasture, overgrazing and poor burning practices, leading to a reduction in foraging opportunities and nesting habitat, and changes to wintering habitat (Langston et al. 2006). A study of breeding ecology on the Western Isles in Scotland found that marginal low-intensity arable farmland and grassland habitats adjacent to moorland were important foraging habitats and suggested that reductions in such habitat may be contributing to local declines (Wilkinson & Wilson 2010).

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