goldfinch defined in 1930 yeargoldfinch - Goldfinch;
goldfinch - Back of the head, nape, and feathers round the base of the bill black; forehead and throat blood-red; cheeks, fore part of the neck, and under parts white; back and scapulars dark brown; wings variegated with black, white and yellow; tail black, tipped with white. Length, five inches.
We are rich in finches. No fewer than eighteen members of that family, including the snow-bunting, may be truly described as British. Among our passerine birds they excel in beauty of plumage, and by most persons the goldfinch, in his pretty coat of many colours - crimson, black, and white, and brown, and brilliant yellow - is regarded as the most beautiful of all. Certainly he is the most elegant in shape, the most graceful and engaging in his motions. It is charming to watch a small flock of these finches in the late summer, busy feeding on the roadside, or on some patch of waste land where the seeds, they best love are abundant, when they are seen clinging in various attitudes to the stalks, deftly picking off the thistle seed, and scattering the silvery down on the air. They are then pretty birds prettily occupied; and as they pass with easy, undulating flight from weed to weed, with musical call-notes and lively twitterings, bird following bird, they appear as gay and volatile as they are pretty.
They are found in suitable localities throughout England, and also inhabit Scotland and Ireland, but their distribution in the last two countries is much more local. During late summer and autumn they lead a gipsy life, incessantly wandering about the open country in search of their favourite seeds. They are also seen in winter, but few remain with us throughout the year, the majority passing over the Channel, to winter in a warmer climate. On their return in spring they come to the neighbourhood of houses, and build by preference in an apple or cherry tree in an orchard. The nest is well made, and composed of a great variety of materials - fine twigs, roots, grass, leaves, moss, and wool - and lined with hairs, feathers, and vegetable down. The four or five eggs are white, thinly spotted with reddish brown and pale purple.
As a vocalist the goldfinch does not rank high; but his lively, twittering song, uttered both on the perch and when passing through the air, and his musical call-notes, have a very pleasing effect, especially when the birds are seen in the open country in bright, sunny weather. Unhappily, it is not now very easy to see them, except in a few favoured localities, owing to their increasing rarity. For the goldfinch is a favourite cage-bird, and so long as bird-catching is permitted to flourish without restriction, this charming species will continue to decrease, as it has been decreasing for the last fifty years and upwards.
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