The greenfinch is a stocky finch, with a distinctly forked tail and a chunky flesh-coloured bill. Males are an apple green with a yellow rump and a flash of yellow on the wings and tail, and a small dark patch between the eye and bill. Females are more subtle in colour, a dull green-grey, with less yellow on the wing and a brownish hue to the upper parts.
During the autumn both sexes become duller in colour, less green and more of an olive-grey hue. Juveniles are brown with a darker coloured bill and have a mottled pattern on the back and sides, with subtle streaks of yellow.
Average Length: 15 cm
Average Lifespan: 2-3 Years
Average Wingspan: 25-28cm
The diet of a greenfinch is varied. They will eat various seeds, flower buds, nyger seed, insects, berries, and nuts. Their powerful bills are used for breaking open seeds which they feed on throughout the year. In winter when natural food sources are scarce, greenfinches rely on supplementary feed at bird feeders and tables.
How to feed: Hanging feeders and bird tables
What to feed: Sunflower hearts, black sunflower seeds and seed mixtures
While greenfinches usually pair from late February, you may hear males singing as early as January. During the breeding season the male displays an elegant song flight, and its song is then very similar to the warbling of a canary. Large nests are built by the female in trees and bushes, composed largely of moss in the outer cup, as well as twigs and roots. The inside of the cup is cushioned by hair and feathers.
Around April-July, the female will produce 2 broods and lay 4-6 eggs per clutch. The female will incubate her eggs by herself for 2 weeks, but both she and the male will feed their young when they have hatched. After 2 more weeks, the chicks will fledge and leave the nest.
One of the largest driving factors in the recent declines of greenfinch is the trichomonosis outbreaks that have been occurring since 2005. This disease can be spread through close contact with other birds and sharing food and water sources and so keeping garden feeders clean is of upmost importance. For more information on this disease, click here. Greenfinches also suffer from other threats such as the changing climate and changes in agricultural practices, with less seed now available for consumption on fields, driving more greenfinches to visit garden feeders.
Keep a constant supply of fresh, clean water available year-round.
Clean your feeders and bird baths regularly. If you suspect there may be illness (like trichomonosis) in you garden birds, cease feeding for two weeks.
Keep feeders stocked up with seeds during wintertime at regular intervals each day.
Did you know that the greenfinch was released in Australia and New Zealand in 1800s to remind UK citizens of home? Based on scientific research, we believe that over 60 birds were released that founded the population that exists today.
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