Greenfinch image from John Gould's Birds of Europe, 1832-37.
The greenfinch is found in Europe, the Urals, Africa and Turkey and was introduced into Australia and New Zealand in the 1860s. It was introduced to Nelson in 1862, Christchurch, 1863, Auckland, 1865 and Otago in 1868. There were apparently fewer than 100 birds liberated.
The greenfinch frequents the settled districts rather than the bush. However, it does like exotic pine plantations and feeds there on pine seeds and nests in the trees.
It flocks in autumn with other finches where it may be readily identified by its heavier beak. The male can be quite conspicuously green but in females and juveniles this may not be so obvious. Such birds can still be identified though by the pale yellow panels in the closed primaries and in the sides of the tail.
In the garden, greenfinches will sit for a long time on hanging feeders containing sunflower seeds. It was apparently one of the first birds to master the knack of feeding from red peanut bags.
They are considered a minor pest as they may attack the buds of orchard fruits.
Greenfinch image from John Gould's Birds of Great Britain, 1862-73.
Green linnet, european greenfinch, green grosbeak.
14-16 cm., 28 g., dull green with green-yellow streaked wings and side of tail; tail black and forked; heavy ivory bill; large head. Female is duller, yellow less obvious; juvenile has duller bill and plumage.
Widespread and common.
LINK to Greenfinch Nest Page
The Green Linnet
Beneath these fruit-tree boughs that shed
Their snow-white blossoms on my head,
With brightest sunshine round me spread
Of spring’s unclouded weather,
In this sequestered nook how sweet
To sit upon my orchard-seat!
And birds and flowers once more to greet,
My last year’s friends together.
One have I marked, the happiest guest
In all this covert of the blest:
Hail to Thee, far above the rest
In joy of voice and pinion!
Thou, Linnet! in thy green array,
Presiding Spirit here today,
Dost lead the revels of the May;
And this is thy dominion.
While birds, and butterflies, and flowers,
Make all one band of paramours,
Thou, ranging up and down the bowers,
Art sole in thy employment:
A Life, a Presence like the Air,
Scattering thy gladness without care,
Too blest with any one to pair;
Thyself thy own enjoyment.
Amid yon tuft of hazel trees,
That twinkle to the gusty breeze,
Behold him perched in ecstasies,
Yet seeming still to hover;
There! where the flutter of his wings
Upon his back and body flings
Shadows and sunny glimmerings,
That cover him all over.
My dazzled sight he oft deceives,
A Brother of the dancing leaves;
Then flits, and from the cottage eaves
Pours forth his song in gushes,
As if by that exulting strain
He mocked and treated with disdain
The voiceless Form he chose to feign,
While fluttering in the bushes.
— William Wordsworth
Gould, John, Birds of Europe, 1832-37.
Gould, John, Birds of Great Britain, 1862-73.
Heather, B., & Robertson, H., Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, 2000.
Oliver, W.R.B., New Zealand Birds, 1955.