Identification: In summer plumage, the male Linnet has a powder-blue head, a red forehead and a rich reddish-brown back. In all other plumages though, the red disappears and the other colours are more subdued though still faintly discernible. Key features though are the white edges to some feathers which create white panels in the primaries and at the base of the tail. The only other bird to show this pattern is the Twite, but the Linnet also has a greyer head, patterned throat and dark bill. In flight, the Linnet shows a series of white lines along the primaries, again matched only by Twite.
Habitat: Breeds in scrub on moorland, heaths and farmland. Winters in stubble and weedy fields.
Distribution: A common bird, except on Shetland where it is absent and northern Scotland where it is more local. Prefers heath and farmland. Many British birds winter on the continent, and are to some extent, replaced by Scandinavian birds. Widespread and numerous in most of Europe.
Population: An estimated 520 000 territories are thought to exist in Britain with a further 130 000 in Ireland. The bird is common over both islands, particularly the east coasts but absent from the highlands of Scotland. It has been estimated that about 3 000 000 birds winter in Britain and Ireland. 7-9 million breeding pairs found across much of Europe apart from the Scottish Highlands and northern Scandinavia.