Linnet - Carduelis cannabina

Alternative names
Linaria cannabina

A small, slim finch, widely distributed, and once very popular as a cage bird because of its melodious song. Males are attractively marked with crimson foreheads and breasts, females much browner. It can be flighty and has an undulating flight, usually twittering as it flies. Now it is declining, in common with many other birds, which use farmland, and is a Red List species.

Identification difficulty

While widespread across the UK, there are concentrations along the East coast from Kent to Aberdeenshire but they are scarce in upland regions and NorthWest Scotland. Look for it on commons, heathland, rough ground, farmland hedges, salt marshes and in parks and gardens.

When to see it

All year round

Life History

They feed on the ground, and low down in bushes. Its food mainly consists of seeds, which it also feeds to its chicks. The linnet derives its scientific name from its fondness for hemp and its English name from its liking for seeds of flax, from which linen is made.

UK Status

Fairly common and widespread in Britain

VC55 Status

Common in Leicestershire and Rutland as a breeding bird, and fairly common throughout the Winter here.

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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