The linnet is a slim finch with a forked tail. Males are brown with grey heads; they have attractive raspberry-red foreheads and breasts, and white-edged black tail feathers. The females are a mottled brown and lack any bright colouring. The females can be confused with twite or redpoll, however the twite is only a scarce winter visitor to coastal Norfolk and the redpoll is nowadays a very scarce Norfolk resident.
They have a distinctive “twittering” flight call. They are seed eaters so their diet consists of grass, cereal grains and wildflower seeds.