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Dandelion seeds are everywhere, the Goldfinch and Redpolls are making the most of them while they last.
The Goldfinch breeds across Europe, North Africa, and western and central Asia, in open, partially wooded lowlands. It is resident in the milder west of its range, but migrates from colder regions. It will also make local movements, even in the west, to escape bad weather. It has been introduced to many areas of the world. The sexes are broadly similar, but on closer inspection male Goldfinches can often be distinguished by a larger, darker red mask that extends just behind the eye. In females, the red face does not reach the eye. The ivory-coloured bill is long and pointed, and the tail is forked. Goldfinches in breeding condition have a white bill, with a greyish or blackish mark at the tip for the rest of the year. Juveniles have a plain head and a greyer back but are unmistakable due to the yellow wing stripe. The species is divided into two major groups, each comprising several races.
The goldfinch’s preferred food is small seeds such as those from thistles (the Latin name is from Carduus, a genus of thistles) and teasels, but insects are also taken when feeding young. It also regularly visits bird feeders in winter. In the winter goldfinches group together to form flocks of up to forty birds, occasionally more. In earlier times, the Goldfinch was kept as a cage bird for its song. Escapes from captivity and deliberate releases have colonized southeastern Australia and New Zealand.
Because of the thistle seeds it eats, in Christian symbolism the Goldfinch is associated with the Passion and Christ’s Crown of Thorns. The Goldfinch, appearing in pictures of the Madonna and the Christ Child, represents the foreknowledge Jesus and Mary had of the Crucifixion.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 April 2011 Taken in Mosgiel Dunedin New Zealand.
Featured 3 May 2011
Dandelion Treats! – Goldfinch