The greenfinch is one of Europe’s most widely distributed birds, breeding from the Mediterranean to the arctic, but absent from Iceland.
Since the 1950s it has become increasingly common in towns and villages, nesting in parks and gardens.
It has spread north in Scandinavia in recent years, a move thought to be due to the increasing popularity of garden bird feeding.
Few birds show as much enthusiasm for feeders as this finch, and peanuts, sunflowers and other seeds readily attract it.
Though it generally feeds in groups or small flocks, large autumn gatherings of several hundred birds are not uncommon.
Ringing has shown that individual birds will move 2000km, but British breeding birds seldom move more than 20km from their birthplace.
Ringing has also proved that numbers of greenfinch from the Norwegian population move to British in the winter.
Greenfinches are sociable birds, and often feed in company with other ground-foraging species, including tree sparrows, linnets, yellowhammers and reed buntings.
The song flight of the cock is distinctive: he flies with slow deep wing beats, singing continuously.
British birds generally start breeding in early April, with their first clutches complete by the end of the month.
The clutch consists of four to six eggs, and incubation takes 11-15 days, with fledging taking place 14-18 days later.
Two broods are usually attempted by each pair.
Young greenfinches can be confusing to identify as they lack the distinctive yellow on their primaries and tail that the adults show.
The plumage of adult male greenfinches from northern Europe is olive-green and yellow, and only looks bright in sunlight. Birds from south-eastern Europe tends to be distinctively brighter.
In Victorian times considerable numbers used to be caught for the cage-bird trade by trappers using clap nets, but they were never as popular as goldfinches or linnets.
These finches have been widely introduced to other countries, and today they are well established in south-east Australia, including Tasmania, both the North and South Islands of New Zealand and in Uruguay and Argentina.
There has been a marked decline in the British population since 2006 due to Trichomonosis. This is the name given to a disease caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas gallinae.
Birds suffering from Trichomonosis appear lethargic and puffed-up and have difficulty swallowing food. Death can take days, but sometimes weeks.
Trichomonosis is spread by birds sharing dirty feeders or drinking water; strict hygiene, including regular cleaning of feeders and disinfecting the ground under feeders, will help prevent outbreaks of the disease.
There are four closely related species of greenfinch found in south-east Asia: the oriental, Himalayan, Vietnamese and black-headed.
Nearly all the local names for the greenfinch refer to its colour. They include green linnet and green grosbeak.
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