At around 16 centimetres long, the bullfinch is big and compact, with distinctive colouring. It has a long black tail and wings, a heavy and chubby bill, an off-white rump and a broad wing bar. Adults have grey upper parts and a black crown and face. The male is bright red below, whereas the female is greyish buff.
Found throughout Europe, the bullfinch lives in mixed or coniferous woods, parks and gardens. Only northernmost populations migrate in winter.
Quiet, almost sluggish in behaviour, bullfinches are usually seen in pairs or family groups rather than large flocks. They feed on seeds and the buds of fruit trees, as well as grains.