Belongs to: finches & buntings

Hawfinch Cocothraustes cocothraustes

BoCC Red list

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Our largest finch, with an outsize bill for tackling fruit stones

Habitat: open deciduous woodland, especially hornbeam, oak and birch

Uncommon resident


Rufous-brown bird with black-and-white wings, large head and massive bill; 16–17 cm

Shy birds, usually keeping to the top of tall trees; move into more open country in winter, forming small flocks

Feed mainly on large seeds and fruit stones, sometimes haws and beech mast, occasionally insects


Courtship includes the male puffing out its feathers and bowing, and what appears to be kissing but is really courtship feeding

Nest is a cup of roots and grass, usually on a high branch

One, sometimes two, broods April to May; 4–6 pale blue eggs, spotted dark brown

© Francesco Veronesi