The bullfinch has long been associated with traditional orchards. Bullfinches love to gorge on emerging fruit blossom buds and were once considered an orchard pest. The bird's population has declined by more than a third over the past fifty years and it is now on the RSPB's Amber list.
The male bullfinch is unmistakable with his bright pinkish-red breast and cheeks, grey back, black cap and tail, and bright white rump. The flash of the rump in flight and piping whistled call are usually the first signs of bullfinches being present. The female has more subdued colouring, with a greyish-buff chest.
They are quiet, unobtrusive birds, easily-overlooked in summer when trees are in full leaf. Their food for most of the year consists of seeds and small insects.
Bullfinches lay four or five eggs in a twig and moss nest and maintain a pair-bond throughout the year.
The name is said to describe the bull-like appearance of the bird, with its compact, neckless body shape and short, deep bill. In Victorian times bullfinches were often kept in cages, not only because of their colouring but also because they could be trained to mimic music. It became a popular pastime to play a special flute to the bird.