I'm trying to identify a bird in my garden. I live in Ireland so western Europe, temperate climate similar to the UK.

I am trying to get a photo and will add one to the post if I can manage to, but the description is:

  • Small brown bird (about the same size as a robin).
  • Beak similar to a finch.
  • Small amount of yellow on the side of the wing, and a little dark brown and white overlap at the back when wings closed.
  • Fully brown head but almost has a little mohawk of feathers puffing up.

It looks like a juvenile goldfinch but surely not the time of year for juveniles? I'm wondering if female goldfinch is a possibility but I didn't think they differed from males that much.

Any help appreciated, but I will try to get a photo as I realise it's difficult to help without!

Update to add (albeit low res!) photo enter image description here

  • Is it making any sound?
    – Chris H
    Dec 5, 2022 at 14:59
  • As you suggest, ♀and ♂adult Goldfinches are alike, and they normally start to breed fairly early in summer. They may have a third brood right up until Septmeber but even with the unseasonably warm autumn that seem unlikely. Female Siskin (resident/winter in Ireland)? Greenfinch is bigger but would have to be a juvenile too based on pattern.
    – Chris H
    Dec 5, 2022 at 14:59
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    This identification tool from the RSPB might be worth a shot. Also it's migration season so there's a slim chance it could be something unusual
    – Chris H
    Dec 5, 2022 at 15:01
  • Thank you so much for replying! It might be a female Siskin alright though it didn't seem as yellow as photos online. I didn't get to hear any sounds unfortunately. Dec 6, 2022 at 12:50
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    I managed to get a photo! But from my window so it's not wonderful. Just clear enough that I thought it might help. Will try to get closer but at the moment there's a squirrel having a great time eating all the fallen maple seeds so I don't want to go out into the garden and scare her off! Dec 8, 2022 at 12:36

1 Answer 1


On seeing the picture, I'm inclined to think it's a female chaffinch. They're pretty common in gardens at this time of year in southern England where I live, and they're resident in Ireland too. The wing markings are often white, and usually depicted as such, but as can be seen from this gallery some yellow is visible on some birds. The build and beak shape are good for chaffinch. They can occur singly or in flocks - as the weather gets colder you're likely to see more, and the male is quite distinctive (only really confused with the much rarer migrant brambling).

They tend to feed mainly on the ground or dish feeders, rather than perching. This ground-feeding is how they got their name, from picking seeds out of the chaff around barns.

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    Wonderful, thanks Chris! She was feeding along the ground below the feeder rather than perching on the feeder itself and the photos in the gallery you shared look exactly right, so that makes sense! Appreciate your help! Dec 8, 2022 at 14:08

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