Bird of the month July - Goldfinch
This beautiful 12cm (4 3/4in) songbird has a charming melodious call, charming bouncy flight and indeed they flock in groups called ‘charms’.
It has a widespread habitat, but they are often seen in groups in wastelands and fields, feeding on a range of seeds including weed seeds, which makes them invaluable visitors to the garden.
It creates nests of stems, grass, and downy seedheads like dandelion clocks, in small trees or shrubs, with and lays 4-6 off-white mottled eggs per brood.
Encouraging goldfinches into the garden really benefits you as a gardener, with its penchant for weed seeds. And you can help to get populations up again, after their unfortunately decline from the days when goldfinches were popular cagebirds. Fill some of your feeders with sunflower seeds and nyger seeds to get goldfinches into your garden.
3 quirky facts
Goldfinches were highly desired songbirds to keep in captivity in Victorian times, and demand was great. This led to wild populations plummeting. They were caught from the wild by means of liming (a sticky substance applied to stems on which the birds become stuck) nets and cages.
It’s the males that feed on teasels on account of their longer beaks; the females, with shorter beaks, rarely attempt to feed on these opting for seeds elsewhere. If you want to encourage goldfinches into your garden, both males and females benefit from feeds that include nyger seeds and grain.
Goldfinches can mate successfully with other finches, and hybridisation can occur in the wild between goldfinches and greenfinches, bullfinches and siskins.