Sunday, 7 May 2017


We've seen linnets here before but never in the numbers we have this year. At the moment, they're at our bird feeders almost all day and don't take any nonsense from the local chaffinch hoards, which makes a nice change.

This is a male. He doesn't have the startling red breast that some do, nor a splash of red on his forehead.

Arduelis cannabina is named after its favourite food, seeds, though the ones we have like peanuts as much as seed. Its common name comes from linseed, the seed of flax, while the species name refers to hemp. The female, above, is plainer than the male.

In Britain, the linnet has 'Red' conservation status, linnet numbers having dropped substantially over the past few decades. Recent survey results suggest that while populations in England and Wales continue to decline, those in Scotland and Northern Ireland are increasing.

The most likely cause of this decline is changes in farming practices: smaller field margins, the use of herbicides to kill the weeds - which means there are fewer weed seeds - and autumn sowing of crops - which means there is less stubble in winter.

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