European greenfinch

European greenfinch

Carduelis chloris

Common name:

European greenfinch

Scientific name:

Carduelis chloris

Alternative common names:


The European greenfinch is a smallpasserinebird. It uses its powerful beak to break open seeds, which it feeds on throughout the year. In winter, it may form groups with other finches and buntings, and as natural seed stocks dwindle at this time of year, it increasingly relies on artificial food sources, such as bird tables. It nests in small colonies in trees and bushes, and only defends a very small area around its nest.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

South-western Europe, North Africa and Asia.

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 2.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Kwa-Zulu-Natal and Gauteng.

How does it spread?

Through pet trade.

Why is it a problem?

The European greenfinch is able to establish itself in almost any habitat, and, as a result, it has become invasive in areas outside its native range. It is also a nuisance due to the noise it makes and its droppings in the vicinity of human habitation.

What does it look like?

Description: The European greenfinch is 15cm long with a wingspan of 24.5-27.5cm. It is similar in size and shape to a house sparrow, but is mainly green with yellow on the wings and tail. Female and juveniles are duller and have brown tones on the back. The beak is thick and conical. The song contains a lot of trilling twitters interspersed with wheezes, and the male has a ‘butterfly’ display flight.

Habitat: It mainly occupies man-modified habitats, including farmland, scrub, pine plantations, orchards and suburban parks and gardens. It is found to a lesser degree in indigenous forests, but seldom far from the fringes.

Breeding: Breeding season occurs in spring. Usually five eggs are laid. The chicks fledge after about 15-16 days, and are fed for a further three weeks.

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