Linnet Carduelis cannabina

A common, small finch of heathland, scrub and farmland, the Linnet feeds on seeds and is present all year-round. 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 were once popular cage birds due to their melodious song.


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


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

When to see in Scotland

January – December

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