Goldfinch

A goldfinch high in an ash tree, photographed by DKG early on Tuesday.

In the winter goldfinches flock together in groups of about a dozen. They come to the park looking for the seeds of compositae like teasels and ragwort. Their beaks are longer and narrower than those of most finches; they have become thistle specialists and the park has plenty of thistles to attract them.

Increasingly goldfinches will visit bird tables in nearby gardens; in fact the British Trust for Ornithology believes that garden bird tables have been a significant factor in an almost 80% rise in goldfinch populations since 2002.

At this time of year, the feeding flocks break up as the birds pair and begin their search for nesting territories. They prefer the edge of woodland and nest high in the trees, sometimes right at the end of a swaying branch. They make deep cups of moss and lichen, lined with thistledown and securely anchored with spider silk.

Goldfinches were, and still are, kept as cage-birds not only for their beautiful plumage but also for their pretty twittering song. As such, they were introduced during the 19th Century to many countries outside their native Eurasian habitats.


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