European greenfinch

PAUL GAY
Last updated 08:04 17/09/2013
European greenfinch
European greenfinch.

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This finch was introduced into New Zealand around 1865.

It's found in Europe, Africa and Turkey and is known here as the European Greenfinch.

It's the largest and most heavily built of the finches that have been introduced into New Zealand and has a distinctive heavy bill, which allows it to crack open larger seeds than other species can manage.

They feed mainly on seeds, including a range of weeds seeds such as thistles, chickweed and dandelion. Seeds from pinus radiata are a favourite species and they will extract them from opening cones or from the ground. They can cause some damage to maize, sunflower and cereal crops and sometimes take buds from fruit trees. In some districts they are regarded as pests.

Greenfinches frequently associate with sparrows, silvereyes and starlings, as they feed on bird tables in our gardens. They can become quite tame and are often the last to fly away when approached. At such times it's easy to distinguish between the sexes.

The male, as illustrated, is a rich green with bright yellow bars on the edges of the wings, while the female has rather dull, sparrow like colourings with a little yellow on the wings.

During the winter months greenfinches form flocks that can number from 10 or so birds to massive flocks estimated in the thousands.

Come spring they pair off, with most moving to the countryside to breed.

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- The Southland Times

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