This is a very migratory bird from Scandinavia and across to Siberia, and is only here in the winter months – though a tiny number sometimes stay through the summer period and have even been known to breed. They can be found in beech woodlands and near to other wooded areas, and often visit gardens in search of food in mixed flocks with chaffinches. Unusually for a finch – or indeed songbirds more generally – the brambling significantly changes plumage through the seasons of the year. In the winter the male bird has a streaked head, orange breast plumage and a white rump, in the spring the males head becomes much darker in colour with a rich orangey red colour on his wings and breast. The females are not so bright and cheerful in colour, though have similar patterns in their plumage to the male.

Brambling diet and food

In their breeding range the main food is insects and caterpillars, and in the UK in winter includes seeds, berries and beechmast. In gardens, Bramblings will readily take to food put out for them and will even go onto hanging seed feeders. However, they’re more likely to feed on food which is on the ground, a table or ground feeder, with favourite foods including sunflower hearts and Premium Finch Mix.

Brambling nesting and breeding habits

Hardly ever in the UK, but in Scandinavia and Siberia it breeds in taiga forests, birch woods and sub-Arctic birch scrub. The nest is normally in the fork of a tree, and is a neat cup similar to that of a chaffinch but a little bigger. One clutch of 5-7 eggs is laid.

Behaviour traits of Bramblings

Bramblings are highly gregarious outside of the breeding season, and form flocks of many thousands of birds on migration. Once in the UK flocks are typically smaller and will often be mixed with chaffinches.

Video footage of Bramblings

Brambling history and population trends

The species has gone through a moderate population decline in the last 30 years or, but the number of birds is still huge and is estimated to be between up to 66 million in Europe alone.