What Do Chaffinches Eat?

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Key Takeaways

  1. Chaffinches eat insects, seeds, fruit, and nuts.
  2. Chaffinches’ diet depends on the time of the year, eating mostly insects and seeds in the warmer months and mostly seeds and nuts in the colder months.
  3. Chaffinches are primarily ground feeders, but they will eat from bird feeders with rounded perches as well.

Looking to draw more chaffinches to your yard? Or maybe you’re looking to learn more about them in general? Knowing what chaffinches eat helps you do both, but just what do they eat anyway?

What Do Chaffinches Eat?

As with many birds, a chaffinch’s is based primarily on what’s readily available, which depends on the time of year! 

Chaffinches eat mostly insects during the warmer months. They also eat seeds during this time, increasing the amount they eat during the colder months since insects are less available then.

Chaffinches also eat fruit and nuts throughout the year.

Chaffinches are primarily ground feeders, meaning they forage for food on the ground. They will eat from hanging feeders or trees, but that’s not their preference.

Let’s start with seeds.

Seeds

A chaffinch eating a sunflower seed.

Seeds are plentiful during the harvest season of late summer and especially autumn. Chaffinches eat many seeds during this window since the days are growing colder, and bugs are beginning to die off.

These are primarily wild seeds (such as wild honeysuckle), but they also adore sunflower seeds and Niger seeds.  

If you want to attract chaffinches to your garden, planting these plants is a great way to start. It may take a few weeks for the chaffinches to realize the plants are there, but once they do, you’ll see them stop by regularly.

Insects

A chaffinch eating an insect.

Chaffinches eat a lot of insects during the summer months.

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

Chaffinches’ other bugs of choice include earthworms, maggots, and even snail eggs. Some also go after spiders.

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

Fruit

A chaffinch on an apple tree.

Chaffinches also enjoy fruit in the summer and autumn.

Primarily, they’ll eat fruits small enough for them to consume, such as berries and tree fruits.

Nuts

A chaffinch on the ground with a nut in its mouth.

Chaffinches will eat nuts in addition to the other foods described above. If you plan on giving them some to eat, we recommend peanuts. They’re particularly fond of those!

How To Feed Chaffinches

You can feed chaffinches with hanging bird feeders (described more below), but your best option is the ground or a low or standing feeder.

As mentioned earlier, chaffinches are ground feeders. They prefer eating this way. So, you can toss food they like onto a designated space in your backyard.

You can try a ground feeder. Feeders like this prevent your backyard from looking messy and make it easy for chaffinches to find the food. Plus, they’re easy to refill and clean.

You could also try a standing feeder. These add a little more beauty to your yard while still providing chaffinches with easy access to food. They’re a good compromise between a ground feeder and a hanging feeder.

Plus, with multiple standing feeders, you can turn one into a bird bath!

Just make sure you take chaffinches’ predators into account wherever you put out their food. They’ll need protection, such as a high feeder or an enclosed backyard, so they can eat in peace.

Do Chaffinches Use Hanging Bird Feeders?

A chaffinch approaching a bird feeder with seeds.

Chaffinches will use hanging bird feeders. However, it’s essential to remember that they’re primarily ground feeders.

So, while many chaffinches won’t turn away free food from a hanging feeder, they’d prefer you throw the seed on the ground.

Just keep in mind chaffinches don’t do well with bird feeders that have straight stands. They prefer rounded perches.

Fill your feeder with seeds and watch the chaffinches enjoy!

How Do Chaffinches Drink Water?

A chaffinch standing by some water.

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

This can be anything from fresh rain puddles to fountains.

You can always provide a bird bath (placed nice and high under a tree or other shelter) in your yard to help make finding water easier. You’ve even got options, such as a standing bird bath or a hanging one!

They’ll likely use the water to clean themselves as well.

Where Can You Find Chaffinches?

Chaffinches typically show up in forests, parks, and farm areas.

You’ll usually find them in the UK, Ireland, North Africa, and parts of Asia.

Chaffinches are common birds, so if you visit or live in one of these areas, then you’ve likely seen or will see one.

How To Identify A Chaffinch

A chaffinch standing on a pine branch.

Chaffinches are rather small, only 5-7 inches tall, with a 9-11 inch wingspan.

The males are naturally colorful, boasting bright tan-orange cheeks, buff chests, and gray caps. The females are brown and feature far less color overall. They’ll have white patches on their shoulders.

Both genders have bright wings with distinctive white and black bars.  

Personality-wise, chaffinches tend to be quite shy. You may have to hide to entice them to your bird feeder. 

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