BRAMBLING (Fringilla montifringilla)


Flocks of brambling arrive from Scandinavia and spend the winter months in our woodlands and gardens. They can often be seen in large flocks reaching hundreds of birds or picking seeds and nuts off the ground beneath our garden feeders. They can be hard to spot as their winter plumage blends in with the leaf-littered floors of autumn. In late winter the flocks become a beautiful colourful sight as they take on their orange and black summer plumage.

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Estimated number of winter visitors: 45,000- 1,800,000

Listen to Brambling song:


When in the UK bramblings are in their non-breeding plumage which is more dull than their breeding plumage. Their mottled brown head and upper parts with grey feather tips help them blend in with the colours of autumn. Their red breast becomes more subdued but their white belly is still visible in flight. In the breeding season, they have black upperparts and heads with orange/red breast and white belly. The females have similar plumage to non-breeding males but are slightly more dull.

Average Length: 14 cm

Average Lifespan: 8 Years

Average Wingspan: 25-26 cm

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Brambling diet

Bramblings mainly eat seeds, nuts and berries during the winter. They forage on the ground and will often visit gardens to feed on seeds and nuts that have fallen from garden feeders.

How to feed them: At garden feeders (or underneath them!)

What to feed them: Any bird seed or nut mix.

Brambling breeding and nesting information

Brambling don’t breed in the UK, instead, they breed when they return to Scandinavia. They begin breeding in May and form monogamous pairs for this period. The nest is usually built in a fork in a tree but can be built very low down in dense vegetation.  5-7 eggs are laid in this nest which are incubated by the female for 11-13 days while the male provides food. Once hatched, both parents work to feed the chicks for another 13 days before they leave the nest.

Threats to Bramblings

Bramblings are green-listed and do not face many threats in their winter or summer grounds. Their numbers vary annually but the reasons for this are not well known but could likely be caused by extreme weather in their breeding grounds. Bramblings are negatively affected by human disturbance such as roads and paths, therefore fragmentation of their chosen habitat by human construction may negatively impact their population.

How you can help

Provide food in garden feeders throughout the winter.

Provide clean water throughout the winter.  

Fascinating Fact

Flocks of Brambling in Europe can reach very large numbers with one flock in Slovenia recorded at 5 million bramblings in 2019.
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BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Fringilla montifringilla. Downloaded from Accessed: 27/10/2023.

British Trust for Ornithology (2019) Brambling, BTO. Available at: Accessed: 27/10/2023

RSPB (2023) Brambling, RSPB. Available at: Accessed: 27/10/2023.  

Svensson, T. (2021). A review of mass concentrations of bramblings Fringilla montifringilla: Implications for assessment of large numbers of birds.Ornis Svecica, 31: 44–67.  

Vikan, J. R., Stokke, B. G., Rutila, J., Huhta, E., Moksnes, A., & Røskaft, E. (2010). Evolution of defences against cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) parasitism in bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla): A comparison of four populations in Fennoscandia. Evolutionary Ecology, 24(5), 1141–1157.  

Woodward,I., Aebischer, N., Burnell, D., Eaton, M., Frost, T., Hall, C., Stroud, D.A.& Noble, D. (2020). Population estimates of birds in Great Britain and theUnited Kingdom. British Birds. 113: 69–104.

Zabala, J., Zuberogoitia, I., Belamendia, G., & Arizaga, J. (2012). Micro-Habitat use by Bramblings Fringilla montifringilla within a Winter Roosting Site: Influence of Microclimate and Human Disturbance. Acta Ornithologica, 47(2), 179–184.  

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