Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)

A highly gregarious winter bird that can be observed in flocks of many thousands, the Brambling is often seen in farmland fields and woodland, yet is characterised by its colourful plumage.

The plump-looking migratory bird, which is medium-sized (similar to the chaffinch) belongs to the Finches family. Its distinctive white rump and attractive orange breast makes it easy to spot alongside its harsh call ‘dzhweeee.’

Bramblings communicate vocally to establish breeding territory and social chatter is used in flight. The males in particular use song to attract mates so they can be extremely joyful to watch and listen to.

The brambling is an abundant species and is not considered to be threatened with extinction, therefore has a Green Status here in the UK and has no conservation measures in place.

General characteristics

Bramblings display behaviour sexual dimorphism, in which the males and females of the same species differ in appearance.

The male brambling has a jet black head during the summer (its breeding season) as well as a brown body, black wings and a black tail. Its long white rump and orange breast are particularly noticeable when in flight. The bill is black, or occasionally blue-grey.

However in wintertime, the male brambling has a mottled grey-brown head, dark brown wings and the bill is a pale yellow/orange colour with a black tip.

The female’s appearance is very similar to the non-breeding male though it is plainer in colour and has a more subdued orange breast and shoulders.

Juveniles look very similar to the female except the rump and belly are a tinged dull yellow, and it has a brown tinged head and upper parts.

Where to see one

As aforementioned, the Brambling is a winter bird so you can expect to see them from mid- September until March/April time. Occasionally the birds will stay in the UK up to May but then it will migrate to breed in Scandinavia and West Siberia.

Look for flocks of chaffinches in agricultural fields near woods but you can also find them closer to home, as they do tend to visit gardens.

What do they eat

Brambling’s diet in winter largely consists of fruit and seeds which means there is a high likelihood you can spot one in your garden visiting your bird feeder.

Taxonomy

Its name- Fringilla Montifringilla- derives from Latin. Montifringilla broken down is…

  • Mons, montis meaning mountain
  • Fringilla meaning finch, any bird of the family Fringillidae

The English name originates from Common West Germanic; brâma meaning bramble or a thorny bush.

What is the Brambling’s nesting behaviour

Bramblings migrate to Scandinavia and West Siberia to breed from early May to August and, it is the male that takes the lead in terms of initiating the courtship. He does this with a wheezing song whilst perched prominently with his bill wide open- it really is an incredible sight to see!

It is the female that builds the nest and she does this using grass, feathers, hair, birch bark and moss.

Breeding usually takes place in the brambling’s first year and it’s the female that incubates the clutch of 5-7 eggs for around 11-12 days.

So keep your eyes peeled for the brambling as it embarks on its migration to the UK this month and if you see any, please send us your pictures and we’ll share them.

Try the interactive Brambling

Attract Bramblings with the following food

Ultiva® Gold

This hugely popular bird seed mix has been at the forefront of GardenBird for many years. A top seller, the inspiration came from a missing link in the bird food chain – a blend focused on oil-rich ingredients.

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Sunflower hearts

These highly nutritious and oil-rich sunflower hearts for wild birds come without the husks of complete sunflower seeds. Specially treated to prevent any extraneous growth in the garden, sunflower hearts are a sure favourite among many different garden bird species.

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Ultiva® Autumn and Winter Seed Mix

The winter period can be a time of distress for many garden birds: scarce food, harsh conditions and struggle. It’s for these reasons why we introduced Ultiva® Autumn & Winter seed mix, a specially-formulated mixture of high energy, oil-rich seeds and grains that feature black sunflower seeds, naked oats and white dari.

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Dried mealworm

Dried mealworms are the perfect nutritional food for your garden birds. Ideal for attracting species such as Blue tits, Starlings and Blackbirds, dried mealworms can be soaked in water over night for an extra juicy treat for your birds.

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