Living with Birds 21 Facts on Goldfinch Tweetapedia

Living with Birds 21 Facts on Goldfinch Tweetapedia

21 Facts
21 Facts On Goldfinch I1


  1. There are just three species of goldfinches in the world - our familiar bird, plus two across the Atlantic: the widespread American goldfinch and Lawrence’s goldfinch, found in the south-west USA.
  2. European goldfinches were introduced successfully to both Australia and New Zealand over 100 years ago.
  3. Young goldfinches lack the red face of the adult, and are often known as grey pates.
  4. The popularity of goldfinches as a cage bird in Victorian Britain led to huge numbers being trapped to supply demand, causing the population to crash.
  5. Halting the decline was one of the first priorities of the Society for the Protection of Birds, later to become the RSPB.
  6. The finches were trapped by a variety of methods including birdlime, clap nets and spring-loaded cages using a decoy.
  7. The numbers of finches caught in a year could be huge: in 1860, for example, 132,000 were reputed to have been taken at Worthing in Sussex.
  8. The collective name for goldfinches, a charm, is derived from the old English c’irm, describing the birds’ twittering song.
  9. Goldfinches rejoice in a number of old rural names including goldie, gold linnet, redcap and King Harry.
  10. One old name, thistle finch, reflects the bird’s favourite food.
  11. The scientitifc name of a goldfinch, Carduelis carduelis, is derived from the Latin for a thistle, Carduus.
  12. Goldfinches appear frequently in medieval paintings of the Madonna and Child, reflecting the finch as a symbol of fertility and resurrection.
  13. In the early 18th century the word goldfinch was used as slang for a very wealthy person.
  14. Male goldfinches have longer beaks than females, allowing them to feed on teasels, something the females seldom attempt.
  15. Though chiefly vegetarian, feeding on seeds, in spring they will also take small insects such as aphids.
  16. Goldfinches will sometimes hybridise with greenfinches in the wild; in captivity they have been crossed with canaries, bullfinches and serins.
  17. Goldfinches like to build their nests on the outer twigs at the end of a branch: they particularly favour fruit trees.
  18. Most pairs attempt to rear two broods a year; some rear three.
  19. Many European populations are migratory, moving to the Mediterranean for the winter.
  20. Goldfinches are highly social, flocking soon after the breeding season has finished.
  21. Autumn flocks may sometimes number thousands of birds.

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