Do hawfinches ever visit gardens?

Ecologist Christian Dunn discusses the likelihood of spotting this smart woodland finch in your back garden.

Kernbeisser (Coccothraustes coccothraustes) Hawfinch • Ostalbkreis; Baden-Württemberg; Deutschland, Germany
The hawfinch has a super-strong bill © Erec Thielscher / ullstein bild / Getty

This smart finch is a localised breeder, most commonly associated with large tracts of mature broadleaved woodland.

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While the New Forest, the Forest of Dean and parts of the Lake District support important breeding populations, the species also occurs more widely across England and Wales in
 winter.

The use of gardens tends to
 reflect this distribution pattern, with 
a handful receiving regular visits from 
birds breeding locally.

The hawfinch 
is secretive in nature, so is easily 
overlooked – many breeding pairs 
likely go unnoticed.

Numbers
 have declined sharply over
recent years but for
 reasons yet unknown,
which suggests that
garden visits may
become even more
 uncommon than they 
currently are.

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