Species: Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

Family: Finches (FRINGILLIDAE)

Category: Birds

Location: Widespread

A. Birds

More extensive information on birds can be found in a separate blog post.


Finches are among our most colourful songsters, and familiar garden birds. They are specialist seed-eaters, whose bills vary in size, shape, and stoutness according to the preferred seed diet.

C. Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

Goldfinches can be seen throughout the year in Britain. Their rich and liquid, trilling voice is distinctive, and consists of a trisyllabic phrase. They are small but brightly-coloured birds notable for their bright red faces and yellow wing patches. They are often seen in small groups, dashing hither and thither in search of seeds. They typically live for a couple of years, but individuals have been found that are 10 years old.

Goldfinches are seed-eaters. Their preferred food is the seeds of daisies or thistles. (In France it is called a chardonneret, a chardon being a thistle. One local British name for the Goldfinch is the Thistle Finch.) This association with thistles has led, in Christian symbolism, to the association of goldfinches with Christ's Passion and the crown of thorns. The goldfinch sometimes appears in paintings of the Madonna and the Christ child. (Perhaps the best known of these is Raphael's Madonna del cardellino or Madonna of the Goldfinch in which the infant John the Baptist, steadied by the Madonna, holds out a goldfinch for the Infant Christ to caress).



The sociable Goldfinch, a seed-eater, finds the bird-feeders in the Cemetery irresistible. Their flitting and rapid flight means that a fixed wildlife camera has the best chance of capturing the bird on film, even if the results are imperfect.