Sunday photoblogging: Goldfinches

by Chris Bertram on January 21, 2024

I’ve been reading Maylis de Kerangal’s Réparer les vivants (oddly available in two different English translations as Heart (US) and Mending the Living (UK)), which I highly recommend. De Kerangal’s speciality is writing about people at work and this is the saga of a heart transplant over 24h, from the beginning of the donor’s day (a trip to go surfing) to the moment his heart re-starts in the recipient’s body. She gives compelling portraits of the people who work in intensive care medicine, and one of them is a nurse with a specialism in overseen the transplant and liaising with the family, who also happens to be a singer with an interest in song, including birdsong. So, there’s a passage in the book where there’s discussion of the Algerian trade in goldfinches (chardonnet in French), which, apparently, get sold for vast sums for their singing prowess. There must be something special about the Algerian ones, because the goldfinch is not an endangered species: there are lots of them out there. So, I’ve been reading about goldfinches and listening to clips of their song, and I’ve just bought a new camera lens with a reach of 800mm (full-frame equivalent) and I see birds in the distance from my living room window. I can’t really see what they are, so I pick up the lens and I see a treeful of goldfinches. And I press, through window glass. Not the greatest image, but serendipitous.




Phil 01.21.24 at 12:07 pm

Top goldfinch tip: get a bird feeder and fill it with sunflower hearts (which are basically shelled sunflower seeds, like humans eat). They love them – I saw ten goldfinches on and around our feeders earlier on.


Alan White 01.21.24 at 3:45 pm

Good photo. I put out a seed sock with niger seed and finches both gold- and house- seem to like that.


Lameen 01.23.24 at 10:51 pm

Nice photo!

The Algerian Arabic word for them is ????? m?qnin. No idea whether Algerian goldfinches sing any better than non-Algerian ones, but Algerians certainly sing about goldfinches, as here (by Amar Zahi) or here (Dahmane El Harrachi). A goldfinch in a cage is kind of a stereotypical feature of old-fashioned town life.


Cola F. Vaughan 01.24.24 at 2:54 am

Hah! The ones on this side of the pond are a rich deep yellow and there’s no red.


Chris Bertram 01.24.24 at 10:20 am

@Lameen: thank you!


russell1200 01.24.24 at 3:55 pm

I second Phil’s recommendation of sunflower hearts. I have a niger seed feeder, but it is mostly ignored.

In general, sunflower hearts are the best overall draw. You will even get birds that tend towards being insectivores as it has enough energy content without needing to have shelling skills.

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