The European Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae. It derives its scientific name from its fondness for hemp and its English name from its liking for seeds of flax, from which linen is made.
Identification: Slightly smaller than a sparrow, the linnet is an attractive finch, which was highly sought after as a cage bird in the 19th century for its pleasant melodious song. In summer plumage, the male Linnet has a powder-blue head, a red forehead and a rich reddish-brown back. In all other plumages though, the red disappears and the other colors are more subdued though still faintly discernible. Key features though are the white edges to some feathers which create white panels in the primaries and at the base of the tail. The only other bird to show this pattern is the Twite, but the Linnet also has a greyer head, patterned throat and dark bill. In flight, the Linnet shows a series of white lines along the primaries, again matched only by Twite.
Habitat: Breeds in scrub on moorland, heaths and farmland. Winters in stubble and weedy fields.
Behavior: Linnet nest colonially, often with several pairs squashed into the one available patch of bushes.
Diet: Linnets are seed-eaters, they feed on over 46 types of seeds, a large proportion of which are from the cabbage family. The species gets its scientific and common names from its feeding habits; the generic name Carduelis derives from the Latin for thistle and ‘linnet’ derives from the Latin ‘linum’, which is flax, a seed plant that this bird once fed on
Diet in captivity: Paradise Earth Premium Finch Blend and thistle seed.