Friday, 20 April 2007

Friday's Finch...

This pretty little bird showed up in the garden last week and stayed…as I write this I’m watching one of them scatching in the gravel outside my office window.


The goldfinch is not rare or endangered but this is the fist time we have had one in our garden. As usual, I had to identify the newcomer and then went online to get some background. I wasn’t going to write about this little bird (I don’t want to bore you all) but there are some interesting facts about goldfinches in history and I thought I would share some of them here.

Goldfinches were kept as caged birds for their song, a melodious silvery twittering, and during Victorian times they were successfully crossed with Canaries to produce prettier songbirds. The resulting birds (known as Mules) could not be bred with as they were sterile but they are still being raised today.

In the wild, goldfinches feed on small seeds from plants like thistles and teasels but will catch insects when raising their young. Because it eats from and nests in thorns and thistles, this bird is associated in Christian symbolism with the Passion and the Crown of Thorns and appears in paintings of the Madonna and Child. It is also an emblem of endurance, fruitfulness and persistence and during medieval times, the goldfinch was even used by some as a charm to ward off the plague.

At about five inches long and weighing a megre half ounce these are a lot of attributes for such a small bird but it’s a very pretty small bird!


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