What Do Chaffinches Eat?

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Chaffinches eat a varied diet of bugs, seeds, and fruit. That being said, what makes up the bulk of their diet will depend on the time of year. For example, they will eat primarily caterpillars and other invertebrates in the summer. In autumn, they will eat mainly seeds and fruit, however!

What Do Chaffinches Eat?

Chaffinches are some of the most common birds in Ireland and the UK.

This means that, if you live in these locations, you’ve probably seen one before. You could also always invest in a bird feeder if you’d like a closer look! 

These beautiful birds are rather small, only 5 – 7 inches tall and with a 9 – 11 inch wingspan and are quite naturally colorful.

They boast bright tan-orange cheeks, buffy chests, and dashing gray caps.

The females are a bit more muted in color. Both genders have wings that are bright and distinctively barred in white and black.  

Personality-wise, chaffinches tend to be quite shy, and you may have to hide from view in order to entice them to your bird feeder. 


Adaptation Power: As with many birds, the diet of the Chaffinch is based primarily on what’s readily available, and this depends on the time of year! 


Seeds

Bird eat seeds in open
Chaffinches favorite seeds

During the harvest season of late summer and especially autumn, seeds are super plentiful.

As the nights grow colder, bugs are also beginning to die off.

So, during autumn, chaffinches eat more seeds than ever!

These are primarily wild seeds, but they also just adore sunflower seeds and Niger seeds, if you have them to offer! 

For example, chaffinches will consume the seeds of wild honeysuckle.

You can plant honeysuckle in your garden as well, and in the autumn, they may stop by for a harvest snack!

Do Chaffinches Eat Niger Seeds?

As a matter of fact, chaffinches are big fans of Niger seeds.

These calorie-rich seeds are quite popular among birds of all kinds. Also called the Nyjer seed, these come from the Yellow African Daisy.

The seeds themselves are small, slender, and dark. They provide great nutritional value, as they are full of healthy omega-fats and even a tiny bit of protein.

This is definitely what chaffinches are looking for!

Do Chaffinches Eat Insects? (Yes – Lots)

Bird eat insects outside
Chaffinches favorite insects

Chaffinches eat a lot of insects.

In fact, for parts of the year, insects comprise most of their diet. They are particularly fond of invertebrate bugs.

These are no doubt the most savory, and they’re easier to catch than winged insects. They’re also full of protein (which is essential for any animal).

Their bugs of choice include caterpillars, earthworms, maggots, and even snail eggs. Ambitious or desperate chaffinches are also known to go for spiders.

They can also snatch winged bugs, like moths or beetles, right out of the air! 

While seeds make up the Chaffinch’s autumn fare, bugs are their primary sustenance in the summer.


What’s More: Planting honeysuckle will not only provide autumn seeds for chaffinches, but the bright, nectar-rich flowers will attract insects for them to feed on in the summer!


Fruit

Another summer and autumn food for Chaffinches is fruit.

This is composed primarily of fruits that are small enough for the chaffinches to consume, such as certain berries or tree fruits.

They are opportunistic feeders and will also sample buds and soft chutes as a snack!

Do Chaffinches Use Bird Feeders?

Chaffinches will happily make use of a well-stocked bird feeder.

So, what should you feed the little guys?

While Chaffinches will eat several kinds of seeds, including millet, their favorites are peanuts, sunflower seeds, and Niger seeds.

These are exceptionally fatty and calorie-rich, which means the most bang for their buck.

As Chaffinches have several predators, including cats and hawks, you’ll want to hang the feeder somewhere shielded from both above and below.

A placement somewhere at least 10-feet up in the foliage of a tree will usually do the trick!

Chaffinches eating from a bird feeder

Finally, straight, thin stands at bird feeders can be tricky for chaffinches to balance on. As a result, they’ll flap their wings to right themselves, wasting precious energy.

Try to find an easy-to-stand-on feeder. You’re sure to attract a few Chaffinches if you hang your feeder thoughtfully and keep their favorite seeds in stock!


Keep In Mind: Chaffinches are rather wary of being watched while they eat. They may not visit if you are clearly in view!


How Do Chaffinches Drink Water?

Like most birds, chaffinches will help themselves to any clean, safely accessible water.

This can be anything from fresh rain puddles to manmade fountains, to an unoccupied inflatable pool.

You can always provide a birdbath (placed under a tree or other shelter and nice and high, for safety) in your yard to help make finding water a bit easier!

Final Thoughts

So, if you were wondering ‘what do chaffinches eat,’ now you’ve got your answer.

Bugs, lots of bugs, and also plenty of seeds and even a bit of fruit.

They are opportunistic feeders, and their diet varies greatly throughout the year!

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