The goldfinch

David Chapman

When September arrives I am always really glad that I let the teasels grow in one corner of our garden.

Teasels can be a bit invasive and they are very big but in the summer they are an excellent source of nectar for butterflies and bees. However their number one fans are from the bird world and when their heads turn to seed, goldfinches turn their heads to teasels! 

In fact these nimble and attractive finches are the only birds that can successfully feed on a teasel head.  There are two reasons for this. One is that the goldfinch has a longer, slimmer beak than other finches enabling it to probe safely into the prickly teasel. The other is the goldfinch's ability to cling on whilst all around it is blowing in the wind.

The goldfinch is certainly an appealing bird. Its plumage consists of black, white, red and yellow which combine to great effect but it was the attractive song of this bird which led to its collective noun, a 'charm' of goldfinches.

If you are charmed by goldfinches then it is worth investing in a special bird feeder which will hold niger seed. When natural food is scarce they literally flock to such feeders and very few other birds or mammals show any interest in it so you won't have problems with squirrels and magpies!

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