©Jon Hawkins

Linnet flock

©Terry Whittaker/2020VISION


Scientific name: Linaria cannabina
The linnet can be seen on farmland and heathland across the UK. But, like so many other farmland birds, linnets are declining rapidly, mainly due to agricultural intensification.

Species information


Length: 14cm
Wingspan: 24cm
Weight: 19g
Average lifespan: 2 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Red under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2021). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

January to December


A common, small finch of heathland, scrub and farmland, the linnet feeds on seeds and is present in the UK all year-round. In winter, they may form large flocks with other seedeaters, roaming the countryside and feeding on stubbles, saltmarshes and wasteland. Linnets build neat, bowl-shaped nests, often in gorse bushes or in hedgerows. They were once popular cage birds due to their melodious song.

How to identify

Linnet males have brown backs, grey heads, and pink foreheads and chests. Females are paler, streaky and lack the pink patches.


Widespread, but absent from the very north of Scotland.

Did you know?

Linnets are named after their favourite food: seeds. Their common name comes from linseed, which is the seed of Flax, while their Latin name, L.cannabina, refers to Hemp.

The Wildlife Trusts work closely with farmers and landowners to ensure that our wildlife is protected and to promote wildlife-friendly practices. By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature.