COMMON ROSEFINCH (Carpodacus erythrinus)


Calling this beautiful finch the common rosefinch could potentially lead to some misconceptions given it is only a very rare passage migrant. Young birds are usually seen in autumn around the northern isles as they migrate southwards. They will often spend a few weeks in Shetland, which provides an important pitstop to fuel up on food before continuing their migration. There have been very rare records of breeding common Rosefinch in the Scottish Highlands.

Discover our Promises

Alert Status:

Not assessed

Estimated number of passage migrants: 146

Listen to Common Rosefinch song:


Adult males have bright scarlet heads, breasts, and rumps, with olive green backs and wings with a pale buff wing bar. Females have olive green backs and heads with a paler grey/buff belly and breast. Smaller than a bullfinch, both males and females have beautiful black eyes. In the UK we usually see juveniles that look similar to adult females but with slightly brighter plumage and more obvious white spots on the wings.

Average Length: 14-15 cm

Average Wingspan: 22-26 cm

BACK to a-z

Common Rosefinch diet

Common Rosefinches mainly eat seeds and buds alongside some fruit and berries. They will also supplement their diet with invertebrates, especially during the breeding season.

Common Rosefinch breeding and nesting information

This species breeds very sporadically in the UK, with most areas of possible breeding activity being located in Scotland. They are monogamous and breed between May and August. The nest is built low down in bushes or dense vegetation, in which clutches of 4-6 eggs are laid. These are incubated by the female for 11-14 days during which the male will sometimes bring food. After hatching the chicks are fed by both parents until they leave the nest 10-13 days later, but they rely on their parents for another couple of weeks.

Threats to common rosefinches

Although numbers in the UK are low, which is expected as a passage migrant, there are not thought to be any threats that are of immediate concern for this bird. However, there are concerns that habitat loss and reduction of suitable food supply in both their breeding and non-breeding grounds may be of importance in the future. The UK serves as an important pitstop for this species to fuel up, so ensuring that there is a viable food supply, especially on our northern isles is important.

How you can help

If you see a common rosefinch breeding, do not report it publicly and read the guidance on the rare breeding birds panel website for how best to make a report.

Fascinating Fact

The Common Rosefinch is also known as the Scarlet Rosefinch, which may be a more fitting name in the UK as it is not that common here!
Download Fact Sheet
Discover our Promises


BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Carpodacus erythrinus. Downloaded from, Accessed: 03/11/2023

British Trust for Ornithology (2023) Common rosefinch, BTO. Available at: Accessed: 03/11/2023.

Holling, M. and the Rare Breeding Birds Panel (2012). Rare breeding birds in the United Kingdom in 2010. British Birds, 105, 352-416.

RSPB (2023) Common rosefinch, RSPB. Available at: Accessed: 03/11/2023.

Stach, R., Kullberg, C., Jakobsson, S., Ström, K., & Fransson, T. (2016). Migration routes and timing in a bird wintering in South Asia, the Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus. Journal of Ornithology, 157(3), 671–679.  

mag glass