Hawfinches breed from North Africa north to Fenno-Scania and thence east across Eurasia to Kamchatka and Japan. The north European populations are highly migratory, moving in winter to the southern areas of the overall range.
    There were scattered references to them in Britain going back to the 17th century, though breeding was not confirmed until the early 19th century. By the beginning of the 20th century they had been recorded in almost every English county and in parts of Wales and Scotland. During the course of the 20th century their numbers fluctuated, but the overall summer trend was down: Bird Atlas 2007-2011 recorded a 76% reduction in breeding range since the 1968-72 Breeding Atlas. Their winter distribution on the other hand showed a 29% increase since the 1981-84 Winter Atlas. The reasons for this disparity are not fully understood, though there is some evidence of winter immigration from continental Europe as well as dispersal within Britain.
    In Wiltshire they were widely recorded in good numbers in the 19th and early 20th century but by the 1950s had become confined to a few broadleaf woodland areas including Savernake in the north and the woods near the border with the Hampshire New Forest area in the southeast. Birds of Wiltshire recorded them in a mere ten tetrads with breeding in only three. WTA2, for confidrntiality reasons, gave no information about numbers or locations, but reports in Hobby confirm that up until 2017 they continued to breed in at least two or three sites and were present in a dozen or so more.

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.