Chaffinches breed throughout Europe (except in Iceland and northernmost Norway, Finland and Russia), and east into central Siberia, and south through Asia Minor and parts of the Middle East into northern Iran. They have also been introduced into Australia and South Africa. They are found in all types of forest (usually in the more open areas and at the edges) small woods, farmland, parks, gardens and orchards. Most of those that breed in north and east Europe migrate in winter to the southern and southwestern parts of the species breeding range and beyond in the case of those that breed in Siberia.
    In Britain they are near ubiquitous, being absent only from parts of the Outer Hebrides and Northern Isles of Scotland. The British breeders are highly sedentary - ringing evidence shows that they rarely move more than a few kilometres from their birth sites. In winter their numbers are about doubled by migrants from further north, joining winter flocks that can number in the thousands, particularly in years when beech mast is abundant. However, while there has been little change in distribution (a 3% expansion between the 1968-72 Breeding Atlas and Bird Atlas 2007-2011), population numbers have varied considerably: they increased rapidly from the early 1970s to the 1990s before levelling off for several years, then rising again until 2006, when they began a sharp decline, co-inciding with an outbreak of  trichomonosis in the species, causing the popularion to fall back to 1970 levels, a 29% reduction from the 2006 peak.
    In Wiltshire they are one of the most wide-spread species: Birds of Wiltshire recorded them in 911 of the county's 915 tetrads; WTA2 recorded them in 814.

The following references are used throughout these species accounts, in the abbreviated form given in quotation marks:
1968-72 Breeding Atlas” – Sharrack, J.T.R. 1976:  The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1981-84 Winter Atlas” – Lack, P.C. 1986:  The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1988-91 Breeding Atlas” – Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993: The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-91. T. & A. Poyser
“Birds of Wiltshire” – Ferguson-Lees, I.J. et al. 2007 : Birds of Wiltshire, published by the tetrad atlas group of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society after mapping fieldwork 1995-2000. Wiltshire Ornithological Society.
Bird Atlas 2007-2011” – Balmer, D.E., Gillings, S., Caffrey, B.J., Swann, R.L., Downie, I.S. and Fuller, R.J. 2013: Bird Atlas 2007-2011: the Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland
“WTA2” – ("Wiltshire Tetrad Atlas 2 ") the present electronic publication, bringing together the Wiltshire data from “Birds of Wiltshire” and “Bird Atlas 2007-11”, together with data from further fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2012.
"Hobby" - the annual bird report of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society.