Though in the wild state it is no mimic, the engaging BULLFINCH (upper pair, male left) in captivity may easily be taught while young to whistle simple tunes. The LINNET, pleasing vocalist of the European finches, bobs on a twig (right), awaiting its turn at the bath. Eating out of the hand quickly becomes a habit with the pert little EUROPEAN SISKIN (lower left). The gay, sweet-voiced EUROPEAN GOLDFINCH (center, below) is far more brilliantly colored than the familiar American species. These four birds, like most of our smaller feathered pets, come from the Old World.
By Alexander Wetmore
Originally appeared in the December 1938 issue of the National Geographic Magazine
The European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) is a handsome fellow of gay plumage, a prime favorite abroad, and is often brought to America. It may be excitable when first captured, but with a little attention soon becomes tame.
In its native home it ranges through Europe and northern Africa to Palestine and western Asia, several geographic forms distinguished by slight differences in color being found in this region. The song is pleasing and, coupled with the bright plumage, makes the bird most attractive.
Common about gardens and cultivated lands, the European goldfinch often nests near houses. Its cup-shaped nest holds from three to six bluish-white eggs spotted with brown.
The bird is one that has been transported often to other lands, and now is established in Bermuda, New Zealand, and in various places in Australia. For a while there was a colony in and about New York City, but after a time the birds did not thrive and their introduction there has been called a failure.