The Linnet (Carduelis cannabina), is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae. The bird is found throughout Europe, western Asia and North Africa. It is mostly resident, but many eastern and northern birds migrate further south in the breeding range or move to the coastal regions. It prefers open land with thick bushes for breeding, including heathland*and garden.

It is a slim bird with a long tail. The upperparts are brown, the throat is sullied white and the bill is gray. The summer male has a grey nape, red head patch and red breast. Females and young birds lack the red and have white under parts with the breast streaked buff. The Linnet’s pleasant song contains fast trills and twitters.

This species can form large flocks outside the breeding season, sometimes mixed with other finches, such as Twite, on coasts and salt marshes. Its food mainly consists of seeds. The linnet derives its scientific name from its fondness for hemp and its English name from its liking for seeds of flax, from which linen is made.

*Heathland: A tract of level wasteland; uncultivated land with sandy soil and scrubby vegetation.

Photo by Mindaugas Urbonas