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Chaffinch vs. Bullfinch — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on November 2, 2023
Chaffinches are small passerine birds with a distinctive pattern and song, while bullfinches are robust finches known for their bright plumage and quiet call.
Chaffinch vs. Bullfinch — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Chaffinch and Bullfinch


Key Differences

The Chaffinch, known scientifically as Fringilla coelebs, is commonly found across Europe, Asia, and northwest Africa. The males are known for their vibrant plumage during the breeding season, with a combination of blue-grey cap and rust-red underparts. In contrast, the Bullfinch, Pyrrhula pyrrhula, displays a bold coloration, with males featuring a bright red underbelly and a black cap, which makes them easily distinguishable from the Chaffinch.
Chaffinches are adaptable birds that often frequent gardens and woodlands, where their melodic song can be heard, particularly from males during mating season. Bullfinches have a more muted call and are often considered shy, usually found in dense woodlands. Both birds have distinctive calls, with the Chaffinch's song being more complex and varied, whereas the Bullfinch's call is softer and simpler.
The diet of a Chaffinch primarily consists of seeds and insects, making it a common visitor at bird feeders. Bullfinches, on the other hand, have a particular penchant for the buds of fruit trees, which can sometimes put them at odds with fruit growers. While both species are of the finch family, their feeding habits influence their interaction with the environment differently.
In terms of breeding habits, Chaffinches build neat, cup-shaped nests, often in the forks of trees, and are known for their intricate construction. Bullfinches also build nests in trees or bushes, but their structures are often less elaborate than those of Chaffinches. The two species exhibit different parenting styles, with Chaffinches often being more conspicuous in their nest defense.
Finally, while both Chaffinch and Bullfinch populations are considered stable, they face different environmental pressures. Chaffinches are more adaptable to changing environments, which helps their populations remain robust. Bullfinches, with their specific habitat and dietary requirements, can be more susceptible to changes in their environment, making their populations more vulnerable in certain areas.

Comparison Chart

Scientific Name

Fringilla coelebs
Pyrrhula pyrrhula


Smaller and slimmer
Larger and stockier


Males with blue-grey cap and rust-red underparts
Males with bright red underbelly and black cap


Complex and melodic
Softer and simpler


Seeds and insects
Fruit tree buds


Intricate cup-shaped nests
Less elaborate nests

Environmental Adaptability

Highly adaptable
More habitat-specific

Compare with Definitions


A frequent visitor to bird feeders.
Chaffinches were feeding on the sunflower seeds.


Known for their quiet and simple calls.
The bullfinch's call was barely audible.


Known for its melodious song.
Birdwatchers enjoy the chaffinch's varied tunes.


Can be detrimental to fruit crops.
Bullfinches are often seen as pests by orchard owners.


A bird with a striking two-tone plumage.
A male chaffinch landed on the garden fence.


Less common at bird feeders.
It's rare to see a bullfinch at the feeder.


Inhabits woodlands and gardens.
Chaffinches thrive in the oak forest nearby.


A bird with a robust build and colorful plumage.
A bullfinch pecked at the buds on the apple tree.


A common European songbird.
The chaffinch's song filled the spring air.


Prefers dense woodland habitats.
Bullfinches were nesting in the thicket.


A small European songbird (Fringilla coelebs) having reddish-brown plumage and a blue-gray cap in the male.


Bullfinch is a name given to two groups of passerine birds.


A small passerine bird, Fringilla coelebs, of the finch family, found throughout Europe and eastward to Iran and eastern Mediterranean coastlands.


A European bird (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) having a short thick bill and in the male a red breast, blue-gray back, and black head, wings, and tail.


A bird of Europe (Fringilla cœlebs), having a variety of very sweet songs, and highly valued as a cage bird; - called also copper finch.


Any of several similar finches.


Small European finch with a cheerful song


The Eurasian bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula).


Any of various other Old World finches in the genus Pyrrhula.


A large, thick quickset hedge.


A bird of the genus Pyrrhula and other related genera, especially the Pyrrhula vulgaris or Pyrrhula rubicilla, a bird of Europe allied to the grosbeak, having the breast, cheeks, and neck, red.


United States architect who designed the Capitol Building in Washington which served as a model for state capitols throughout the United States (1763-1844)


Common European finch mostly black and white with red throat and breast

Common Curiosities

What distinguishes a chaffinch from a bullfinch?

Their size, plumage, song, diet, and nesting habits.

Can chaffinches and bullfinches hybridize?

No, they are different species and do not typically interbreed.

Do chaffinches sing all year round?

Mainly in the breeding season, less so at other times.

Why are bullfinches less seen than chaffinches?

Due to their shy nature and preference for dense woodlands.

Where do chaffinches build their nests?

Often in the forks of trees.

Which finch is more colorful?

Bullfinches, especially males, are more vividly colored.

What is the main diet of a chaffinch?

Seeds and insects.

How can I identify a male chaffinch?

Look for the blue-grey cap and rust-red underparts.

Are chaffinches migratory?

Partially; some populations migrate, while others are resident.

Why can bullfinches be problematic for gardeners?

They eat the buds of fruit trees, which can damage crops.

How do I attract chaffinches to my garden?

Provide seeds and a bird bath.

Are bullfinches endangered?

Currently, they are not considered endangered.

Are bullfinches solitary?

They can be, especially outside of the breeding season.

Can bullfinches be found in urban areas?

Rarely, as they prefer more secluded woodlands.

What should I do if bullfinches are damaging my fruit trees?

Use netting to protect the buds or consult a wildlife expert.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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