Hawfinch

Hawfinch ©Andy Morffew

Hawfinch

Scientific name: Coccothraustes coccothraustes
The Hawfinch is the UK's largest finch, with an enormous bill powerful enough to crush a cherry stone. Despite their size, they are typically elusive, especially during the summer nesting season.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 18cm
Wingspan: 31cm
Weight: 58g

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Red under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015).

When to see

January to December

About

The Hawfinch is a huge finch, weighing over twice as much as the more familiar Chaffinch. It uses its powerful bill to crack open seeds from trees such as cherry, hornbeam and beech, but in summer often feeds on insects as well. Hawfinches are found in large areas of mature broadleaved woodland, favouring areas with open glades. Shy birds, they can be extremely difficult to find in summer, remaining high in the canopy and rarely calling. In winter, numbers are boosted by continental migrants, and birds are easier to spot in leafless trees.

How to identify

Hawfinches are huge compared to other finches, with a distinctive top-heavy silhouette created by their large head and thick, triangular bill. They are predominantly a rusty, orange-brown, richer on the head and tail, with a dark brown back and a black patch around the base of the bill.

Distribution

Localised, with scattered populations in England, the north and south of Wales and southern Scotland; they are entirely absent from Northern Ireland.

Did you know?

The bill of a Hawfinch can exert a pressure of over 150 pounds per square inch. That's enough to crush even an olive stone, and the equivalent of a thousand times its own weight.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.