(Serinus serinus)

The serin (Serinus serinus) also known as the European serin, is the smallest European species of the family of finches.

Closely related to the canary, the Serin is a rare passage visitor to southern England, normally seen in the spring and autumn. Recorded annually in Devon, Dorset, Sussex, East Anglia as well as Jersey, but no more than one or two pairs per year.


Serins are small finches with short, stubby bills, which are cone shaped and forked tails. They are 11 – 12 cm in length and weigh 12 – 15 grams. Some people do confuse them with Siskins, juvenile Green Finches and Canaries, however, Siskins and Greenfinches are both larger than serins.

Both sexes have streaky yellow/brown upper parts (feathers), with paler streaked under parts and lemon yellow rumps. Their eye colour is dark brown.

Serin upper and lower parts

The serin upper and lower parts

Males have bright yellow heads with darker patches on the crown and below the eyes, with green streaked upper parts and whitish underparts, which are also streaked on the flanks. The rump, head and breast are bright yellow. However, the female is duller and browner, with Juveniles being brown-buff and heavily streaked.

The serin wingspan is 18 – 20cm. It’s wings are pointed and it’s tail is notched and fan shape. When flying the serin alternates between rapid wing beats and short glides, landing on its pink legs.

Habitat and Nesting

The serin breeds across southern and central Europe as well as north Africa. In Europe, serins migrate south in the autumn, returning in the spring, and this is when they are most likely to be seen in Britain, typically along the south coast.

Breeding starts in May when the female builds its nest. This is usually in a tree or bush in open woodland, scrub, or gardens. However, only a few breed in Britain, usually along the south coast of England.

The nest is a neatly constructed of stems, roots, and moss that is lined with feathers and hair. When ready, the hen lays around 3 – 5 eggs and incubates them for 13 days. The eggs are about 17 mm long and are smooth, glossy and pale/light blue with purplish speckles in colour.

Once hatched, both parents feed the young.


The serin’s call is a series of twittering notes and is typically a loud, trilled twittering ‘trirrlilit’ which is mainly uttered while flying, and also used as contact call between mates. You may also hear a ‘ch-ik-ik-ik-ik-ik-ik-si-see’ sharp sound. Also, the alarm call is a high-pitched ‘tsooee’ or ‘tsswee’, whereas the song is a longer version.

The song is prolonged, wheezy, chirping and mixture of high-pitched notes and short buzzy trills. Some describe this as sounding like ‘crushing glass’.

Song is given from an exposed perch or in flight, with males singing all year round, mainly during the breeding season.


The serin feeds on seeds. However, during breeding season they will eat small invertebrates too. The small serin is active, and needs to keep hydrated as well as getting a regular intake of nutrients.

Try the interactive Serin

Attract Serins with the following food

Premium suet balls

Our premium suet balls each contain over 90g of high grade, quality beef suet, blended with wheat, peanuts and dried mealworms.

Ultiva® Gold Seed Mix

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.

Ultiva® Everyday Seed Mix

A fantastic premium ‘starter’ mix for attracting a whole host of different garden birds, Ultiva® Everyday Seed Mix is a combination of the most popular bird food ingredients.

Ultiva® High Protein Insect Mix

Ultiva® High Protein Insect Mix features a combination of the highest-yield, energy-dense bird favourites available: sunflower hearts, an infusion of nutritionally beneficial dried mealworm, as well as other tempting ingredients such as oatmeal, kibbled peanuts and white dari.