Find out all about one of our winter visitors, the brambling, with these 5 facts from RSPB Scotland's Allie McGregor.

5 facts to know about bramblings

1) Bramblings are winter visitors to parts of Scotland and their numbers will depend on the food supply available. There will usually be anywhere from 45,000-1,800,000 wintering in the UK.

2) Bramblings are very similar to chaffinches in size and shape. They can be identified by their colouring and their beak. Bramblings have a rust coloured chest and pale wing markings tinged with yellow. While in summer their head will be a dark blue-black, in winter they have some pale fringes creating a speckled effect. In winter their beaks are yellow with a dark tip.

Bramblings can also be distinguished by their white rump, which is more noticeable once they take flight.

3) While in summer bramblings are big fans of insects, in winter their delicacy of choice is beech mast, or if they can’t get their hands on that they also love conifer seed.

Bramblings aren’t a common garden visitor, but there are some things you can do to make your garden more brambling-friendly. They prefer to feed on the ground, so a low bird table is more suited to them. Having tall trees in your garden is also an attraction for bramblings.

4) The brambling does not breed in the UK, it breeds from May to August. Male bramblings lead the courtship with a wheezing song which they perform from a prominent perch. Bramblings have quite a distinct call, have a listen here.

5) Unsurprisingly given their love for beech mast, a good place to look for bramblings in the winter is beech woodland. They can also be found in farmland fields near woods. In winter they may venture into gardens as well. They are quite social birds and it’s worth keeping an eye out for them amongst flocks of other finches.

  • I'm poor at bird recognition, but when a Brambling joins 'my' flock of chaffinches, I find it noticeable. None this year so far, though, and not every year. A good reason to keep looking, though.