Do Bullfinches Mate For Life?

As mad as this may seem, scientific experiments have been carried out on whether the bullfinch mates for years and even for life.

It caused so much speculation because many bird enthusiasts weren’t sure if it was an old wives’ tale, or if it was, true, even in bird guidebooks and references, it was claimed the bullfinch mated for life.

Bullfinches, it seems, are also such shy and quiet little birds it’s challenging to keep track of them, so whether they did mate for life was unclear…

We also know there are many varies of bullfinch species, so can this question be asked of all of them – is there a difference?

Eurasian bullfinches, who are migrators to Europe, tend to spend the winter months together in flocks of two to seven individuals, and we all assumed that meant they were in couples and long-term relationships.

But this has proved not always to be the case…. Sometimes, but not always.

But once they’ve played the field, it appears that the majority of this bullfinch species, once a couple does seem to stay together – the dapper male is quite happy to stick with his more dowdy female partner.

And the reason for this little bit of bird romance?

Rumour has it they mate for life because they can’t be bothered to waste time and energy trying to find a new mate in the spring, so they have to start breeding early on in the season. Charming! 

Not a Romeo then…

It was discovered during a Norwegian experiment that three pairs of bullfinches stayed together for one winter, three stayed together through two winters, and one pair stayed together through three winters. 

It was therefore concluded that pair fidelity was true among bullfinches, validating a long-standing bird tale.

So, the shocking revelation that some birds are guilty of polygamy, polyandry, and marathon mating sessions can’t be applied to our humble little bullfinch – phew!

So, are bullfinches lifers? I believe the good old bullfinches from Britain definitely are! And science proves it!

1 thought on “Do Bullfinches Mate For Life?”

  1. I had bullfinches, male and female, on my bird feeders most of the summer and
    Then they disappeared during September. Have they migrated?


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