Hawfinch - Coccothraustes coccothraustes


The UK's largest finch, it has a massive, powerful bill that is capable of cracking cherry stones. Always shy and very elusive, spending much of its time in the tops of trees. Almost as big as a thrush, Hawfinches are basically orangey-brown in plumage, with a black eyestripe and bib. In flight the most striking features are the massive white wing bar and the white tip to the tail. The bill is grey-black in summer, horn-coloured in winter and has a distinctive black surround. The sexes are similar.

Identification difficulty

Breeds in broad-leaved woodlands and parks. Winters in woodlands, particularly those with hornbeam, plum, cherry or yew.

When to see it

All year round; usually more easily seen outside the breeding season when trees are leafless and the birds feed more regularly on the ground.

UK Status

Hawfinches are now mostly restricted to England in the UK, and have declined in many areas. Parts of western England near the Welsh Borders, the Home Counties and the south-east from Hampshire to Kent remain the most likely places to find them.

VC55 Status

Used to be an uncommon breeder up to the middle of the 20th century but now a rare passage migrant

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map