We’ve often put food out for the garden birds. Usually it’s starlings, house sparrows, and wood pigeons that attack the feeders, years ago we may have had one of the local black squirrels having a go. The dunnocks and our labrador hoover up the seeds that fall to the ground. I’d seen goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis, yet another tautonym meaning that this is the “type” of the family) flitting around the houses and occasionally landing on our TV aerial, but never landing on the feeders.
It seems the goldfinches are not so keen on sunflower seeds and other delicacies found in the generic 20 kg bags of wild-bird food one might pick up at a garden centre for a tenner, much preferring the floral embryos of the Ethiopian plant Guizotia abyssinica, commonly known as niger seeds and sometimes nyjer, ramtil, ramtilla, inga seed, and blackseed. There were a pair of goldfinches feeding either side of the niger seed feeder and I snapped them through glass. The seeds are botanically a form of fruit known as an achene. Another member of the Carduelinae, the greenfinch (Chloris chloris) also favours these seeds over the mixed bird food.