Sizergh's elusive hawfinch

Male hawfinch at Sizergh

Hawfinches are a shy species and usually require patience and a keen eye to spot. However throughout March, we're running a series of free Hawfinch watches with our expert ranger to give you a helping hand.

Join a ranger watch

This March, you'll have a rare opportunity to get a glimpse of a normally unseen bird out on the Sizergh Estate.

Hawfinches are native to the UK but rarely seen out in the open, preferring the cover of dense woodland to gardens and parks. At this time of year they emerge to feed on the fallen seeds of the hornbeam trees found in the car park at Sizergh Castle and to find a mate.

The café’s veranda is one of the top spots in the north of England to see these shy birds and on certain dates our ranger Rob will be providing expert guidance on how best to catch a glimpse. Get here early, between dawn and 10am, or join one of the free Hawfinch watches running on Fridays and Saturdays throughout March, starting at 8am. On these days the café will be open earlier from 9.30am.

Tips and tricks

If you fancy having a go yourself, March and April are the best months to see the birds, and it's important to get here early, between dawn and 11am, which is when they come out to feed. It's useful to know that hawfinches prefer to ‘hang out’ in the tops of trees, so make sure that's the first place you look when you arrive. The seeds they feed on are on the ground underneath the hornbeam trees at the far end of the car park.

The third and final point to bear in mind is that hawfinches also have a characteristic ‘tick’ call (which to some sounds like a fizzy drink can opening). This is the first sign they're around. Their call can be easily drowned out in a woodland setting by other birds such as robins and song thrush, but in our car park it's more audible.

Remember, have patience, and good luck!