Male and female greenfinch by water


Finches are a family of birds sometimes known as the true finches. There are some 138 species in the family, most of whom have strong stubby beaks that make finches highly specialised seed-eaters. In most species the male has more colourful and distinctive plumage than the female. Finches are found all over the world in their favoured woodland, in mountains and deserts and of course in many a garden. Some species, such as the canary, have been bred as cage birds because of their lively nature, attractive plumage and interesting song.

Scientific name: Fringillidae

Rank: Family

Common names:

True finches

Watch video clips from past programmes (4 clips)

In order to see this content you need to have an up-to-date version of Flash installed and Javascript turned on.


Map showing the distribution of the Finches taxa

The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

Explore this group


The following habitats are found across the Finches distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

BBC News about Finches

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.

  • Garden birds Garden birds

    Nestcam close-ups, expert identification guides and specialist wildlife cameras give a privileged view of a very British obsession: garden birds.

Elsewhere on the BBC