Linnet Carduelis cannabina

The linnet is a common, small finch of heathland, scrub and farmland. Linnets feed on seeds and are present all year-round. Linnet males have brown backs, grey heads and pink foreheads and chests. Females are paler, streaky and lack the pink patches.


In winter, they may form large flocks with other seed-eaters, roaming the countryside and feeding on stubbles, saltmarshes and wasteland. Linnets build neat, bowl-shaped nests, often in gorse bushes or in hedgerows. They have an undulating and somewhat erratic flight. Linnets were once popular cage birds due to their melodious song.


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


Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Classified in the UK as a Red List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review and as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.



When to see

January – December


  • Linnets are named after their favourite food: seeds. Linseed is the seed of flax, giving the bird its common name, while the Latin name ‘cannabina’ refers to Hemp.

Common name


Species name

Carduelis cannabina

IUCN Red List status

Least concern

When to see in Scotland

January – December

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Bawsinch & Duddingston or Longhaven Cliffs

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