Gimpel /Bullfinch
Gimpel oder Dompfaff / Bullfinch /Bouvreuil pivoine / Pyrrhula pyrrhula


Pair on their nest

Scientific classification














Pyrrhula pyrrhula

Binomial name

Pyrrhula pyrrhula
(Linnaeus, 1758)

Das Gelege
Nest with eggs



Nordischer Gimpelhahn
 a nordic exemplar 

Jungvogel (Ästling)


The relatives

Japangimpel/P.p. griseiventris

P.p. griseiventris


The bright red underparts of a male Bullfinch can provide a rare splash of colour on a grey winter's day but their habit of destroying fruit-tree buds means they are not universally popular. Bullfinches are big, fat finches which can be most easily identified by their neat, jet black caps or their obvious square white rumps, as if the base of the tail has been wrapped in white bandage. Females are browner than males, lacking the red front and grey back. Juveniles lack the black cap but can still be told by their fat, bull-necked appearance and short but very deep black bill, as well as the conclusive white rump.

Seeds of fleshy fruits and herbs, buds, and shoots; invertebrates important in diet of young. Forages in woodland, thickets, hedgerows, etc., some moving to open country, large gardens, or orchards in late autumn to early spring; hardly ever feeds more than c. 10 m from cover. Generally extracts seeds from fruit on plant, since only large seeds can be picked up from ground because of bill shape; small seed-heads and sometimes small fruits may be bitten off and carried to ground for removal of seeds. In tree or bush, either extracts seeds from fruit in situ, leaving skin and pulp hanging, or mandibulates fruit by turning it in bill with tongue, removing pulp against lower mandible and swallowing seeds, sometimes without de-husking; bites into fruits and soft seed-heads much more than other Fringillidae of region and bill well-adapted to this.

Vocal repertoire large, similar in and ; probably related to need for effective communication in dense vegetation in which vocal signals are usually given. In captivity has ability to learn and imitate human music. Song of distinctive timbre, but neither loud nor very different in quality from other calls; highly variable between individuals. Consists of varied units, many in pairs, often continuing (without marked pauses) for several minutes. Given either as ‚directed song‘ as part of courtship-display, or as ‚undirected song‘ usually at a distance from other individuals. Both categories of song given by both and , most commonly by. ‚Directed song‘ audible only within a few metres, sometimes only evident from throat movements; ‚undirected song‘ usually louder, audible up to c. 20 m. Most familiar call a plaintive, piping ‚phew‘, given by both sexes all year. Birds separated from mates give repeated ‚phew‘ calls which function as long-distance contact-calls, and variants of this call given in other contexts. Repertoire includes several other, mainly monosyllabic, calls, including hoarse, monosyllabic ‚hhwhore‘, or ‚phee-yore‘ (hiss preceded by whistled note similar to ‚phew‘), given with bill wide open, in head-forward threat posture; almost exclusively by when threatening .

Sedentary to migratory; probably most populations partially migratory. Winters chiefly within breeding range, those breeding at high levels tending to make altitudinal movements. Most migrants move short or medium distances, but some (apparently chiefly from Russia) move longer distances; in northern and central Europe, no evidence that northern populations move further than southern ones. North European birds move within wider compass than central European birds. Also eruptive migrant; numbers migrating show marked annual fluctuations; no link with particular food source established. Autumn migration begins late, and is fairly brief, mostly October-November; spring migration February-April.

Bullfinches are in serious trouble in Britain, with the population down by 62 per cent in 35 years.

The UK Bullfinch population has been in decline since the mid-1970s, following a period of relative stability. The decline was initially rapid, but has been shallower since the early 1980s. Nevertheless, the CES and BBS both suggest that the decline is continuing, at least in southern Britain. The demographic mechanism remains unclear (Siriwardena et al. 1999, 2000b), although agricultural intensification is suspected to have played a part. CES data indicate that productivity has increased over the last decade, and nest failure rates at the chick stage (15 days) have fallen from 37% to 21%.

Geographic Range

Across Europe and Asia from the British Isles through Japan.


Except for in Japan and Britain, where they inhabit deciduous woodland and cultivated grounds, Bulfinches are found in coniferous or mixed woodlands.


Koreagimpel / Pyrrhula p.rosacea

P.p. rosacea








Physical Description

The Bullfinch is a small bird, about six inches in length. The male has a distinctive black cap, rose-red underparts, and white rump. The female and juveniles are more pinkish-grey in color.


Bullfinches construct nests containing fine twigs with moss and lichen intertwined and a lining of black roots and shrubs. Nests are usually placed only a few feet above ground. There are sometimes up to three clutches of 4-5 eggs laid during the season, which spans early May to mid-July. Chicks hatch out in about two weeks and are fed a mixture of seeds and insects. The male Bullfinch do not helps the female incubate the eggs, but he feeds her while she sits on the nest. He later assists the female in collecting food for the young and feeds them just as well.


The Bullfinch can be seen throughout the year in pairs or in small family parties. In the spring, they also may form flocks of about fifty (rarely over one hundred) birds. Bullfinches generally are shy, perching within the cover of trees, not often on the ground. It reveals its presence through its penetrating low whistle "piping" song.

Food Habits

Bullfinches feed primarily on buds and seeds. The buds from fruit trees, especially woodland trees, are eaten exclusively in the spring. A bullfinch feeds on the buds by landing on the tip of a branch and slowly moving towards the trunk, stripping the bud as it goes. However, it is only when supplies of seeds remaining from the previous summer and autumn diminish that bullfinches attack buds. In deciduous woods, bullfinches demonstrate a preference for the seeds of dock, nettles, privet, bramble, birch and ash. These seeds are the main food supply until buds begin to develop.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Bullfinches inflict serious damage on orchards by feeding on the buds of fruit trees. This has been a serious problem, especially in south-east England, where orchards capable of yielding several tons of fruit have been stripped by bullfinches so efficiently that only a few pounds could be harvested.

Conservation Status

Only 1/3 of all clutches in woodland and 2/3 of those in farmlands live to adulthood. The remaining are eaten by predators, which are mainly jays, magpies, stoats, and weasels. The Bullfinch has been persecuted in England since the 16th century. Nevertheless, numbers continue increasing and more efficient ways of killing them are constantly being sought.



190 000 territories in Britain, across much of the country with another 100 000 in Ireland.
2-4 million breeding pairs widespread across Europe but becoming rare in the south where it is confined to the highlands of Italy and northern Spain.

Verbreitungsgebiet des Gimpel