A Male Greenfinch on a sunflower head.

Not as common as Chaffinches, nor as chattery as Goldfinches, Greenfinches still deserve a spot in your top garden birds. Here are five facts about these subtle characters.


Greenfinches are slightly larger than the other finches you might commonly see, but have a similar upright body, forked tail and powerful beak. Males are olive green with bright yellow wing-flashes, and a smoky grey patch around the eye. Females are less colourful but still have the striking flash of yellow on their wings.


They often sit at the tops of trees to sing, and their wheezing “dzeeeee” call is a good sign to listen out for. They can be seen in mixed flocks with other finches, Siskins and Linnets.


A male Greenfinch on a branch with blossom. Ben Hall.

Greenfinches used to be almost exclusively farmland birds, but now they’re often seen in gardens and urban areas. Their strong beaks allow them to crack into sunflower seeds, though they also feast on peanuts, smaller seeds and insects. Although quite sociable, they may squabble among themselves or with other birds at the bird table.


Scots names for Greenfinches include Green-lintwhite and Grene-serene, and the Gaelic for Greenfinch is Glaisean-daraich.

 A female Greenfinch in a tree.

A femal Greenfinch showing the yellow flashes on her wings. Ben Andrew.

Greenfinch populations declined during the late 1970s and early 1980s but increased dramatically during the 1990s. A recent decline in numbers has been linked to an outbreak of trichomonosis, a parasite-induced disease that prevents the birds from feeding properly. To help stop the spread, make sure to keep your bird feeders clean.



Main image by Ben Andrew