The First Ladybird Book of British Birds – #12 The Goldfinch

It’s Day 12 of turning the pages in this 1950s Ladybird book to see what’s changed:

Ladybird Book of British Birds - The Hall of Einar

“This brilliantly coloured little bird likes to live in gardens and orchards.”

It certainly does, Here’s one I photographed recently:

Goldfinch - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

There was also a pair in my garden in Devon last year:

Goldfinch - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Back in the 1970s I saw one and drew it on Daler Art cartridge paper for my nature notebooks:

Goldfinch - 1970s Nature Notebooks - The Hall of Einar

The pair were very beautiful but I never did get them together.

“The cock and hen are just the same, so that you cannot tell them apart.”

That’s 1950s Ladybird book knowledge. We now know that the male has a slightly curved beak while the female’s is straighter. The male has a larger red patch on the face and wider yellow stripes on the wings and the male’s tail is heart-shaped while that of the female is straighter. Small differences maybe, but important if you’re a Goldfinch.

How are Goldfinches doing in the UK? Well, from 1970 to 2015 they have increased by 159% according to The State of the UK’s Birds 2017. That’s one very, very small success story.

Here’s my reaction to seeing one in 1977:

Goldfinch - 1970s Nature Notebooks - The Hall of Einar

Forty years later and it’s still a thrill to see one.

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