EUROPEAN SERIN (Serinus serinus)


The European Serin is a rare passage visitor to the UK, with pairs occasionally breeding in southern England and the Channel Islands. This small finch favours coniferous woodlands but will also make use of farmland, parks and gardens, with their loud abrasive song usually the first indication of their presence. They breed across the Middle East, and Central Europe, where they are partially migratory.

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Alert Status:

Not assessed

Estimated number of passage migrants: 66

Listen to European Serin song:


These stunning yellow finches are a very rare sight in the UK. Both males and females have streaky bright yellow and brown backs, wings and flanks and a forked tail. Their bellies are yellow/white in colour which becomes bright yellow on their breast. Males have bright yellow heads with black feathers on their crowns and cheeks, while females have slightly duller colouration on their heads. The bright yellow colouration of the males helps the females choose a mate as brighter plumage is an indicator of a healthy male.

Average Length: 11-12 cm

Average Lifespan: 3 years

Average Wingspan: 18-20cm

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European Serin diet

European serins have a varied diet including seeds, buds and small invertebrates. They will visit gardens and take seeds from garden feeders, however, due to the small population, you are unlikely to see them in your garden.

European Serin breeding and nesting information

This species has a large breeding range, with some occasionally breeding in the UK. The breeding season begins in February and ends in August. The female builds a nest which is located off the ground in a bush or tree. 3-4 eggs are laid and incubated for 12-13 days by the female alone. Once hatched the chicks are fed by both parents for a further 15-18 days until they leave the nest. They will rely on their parents for another 9-10 days.

Threats to European Serins

This species is listed as least concern around the world but the small population in the UK means it has not been accessed. There are not many known conservation concerns for this species but its preference for coniferous forest means that the loss of this habitat could drive population declines. Due to their colourful plumage, this bird is sought after in the wildlife trade. If they become more popular, this could drive declines in the population.

How you can help

Report sightings of this bird during the breeding season to help track population change.

If you live in the very south of England keep your feeders and bird baths topped up for this bird!

Fascinating Fact

The Serin is the smallest European Finch!
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Bergin, D., Nijman, V., & Atoussi, S. (2019). Concerns about trade in wild finches in Algeria. Oryx, 53(3), 410–411.

BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Serinus serinus. Downloaded from Accessed: 06/11/2023

British Trust for Ornithology (2023) Serin | BTO - British trust for ornithology. Available at: Accessed: 06/11/2023.

Leitão, A. V, Monteiro, A. H., & Mota, P. G. (2014). Ultraviolet reflectance influences female preference for colourful males in the European serin. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, 68, 63-72.  

Massa, B., & Borg, J. J. (2018). European birds of conservation concern: Some constructive comments. Avocetta, 42(2), 75–84.

RSPB (2023) Serin Bird facts: Carduelis Spinus, The RSPB. Available at:  Accessed: 06/11/2023.

Trigo, S., & Mota, P. G. (2015). What is the value of a yellow patch? Assessing the signalling role of yellow colouration in the European serin. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, 69, 481-490.  

Trigo, S., & Mota, P. G. (2016). Carotenoid-based plumage colouration is predicted by age and parasites in the male European serin. Journal of Avian Biology, 47(3), 409–416.  

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