[Three Hundred Animals Contents]
IS also called Thistle-Finch, from his fondness for the seed of that plant. He is a very beautiful bird; his plumage is elegantly diversified. His form is small, but pleasing; his voice not loud, but sweet. He is easily tamed, and often exhibited as a captive, with a chain round his body, drawing up with trouble, but yet with amazing dexterity, two small alternate buckets, one containing his meat, the other his drink. We remember one who, after having been doomed a whole year to that drudgery, and having nipt off a link of his chain, remained spontaneously a captive for several months, ere, by some accident, his master became conscious of his bird being under no constraint, and at full liberty. It is perhaps a melancholy but yet a true observation, that mankind is less patient of freedom than of slavery, and that men, like brutes, know better how to make good use of the latter than of the former. When caught old, the Gold-Finch, after a few weeks, if well attended to, and gently treated, becomes as familiar as if he had been brought up by the hand of his keeper. Some have been taught to fire a small piece of artillery, and go through the drilling exercise, to the great astonishment of the spectators.
This bird, as if conscious of the beauty of his plumage, likes to view himself in a glass, which is sometimes fixed for that purpose in the back of the cage, or, as it is called among the French, “la galere.” The art with which these birds compose and build their nests is really an object of admiration; it is generally interwoven with moss, small twigs, horse-hair, and other pliant materials; the inside stuffed, most carefully, with a fine down. There the female deposits five or six eggs of a white colour, marked at their upper end with purple dots. It is reported that this small creature exceeds the general rules of life among those of his size, and often lives twenty years.
Now where the thistle blows his feather’d seed
Which frolick Zephirs buffet in the air,
The crimson-hooded Finches, on the flowers,
Spread the pure gold laid on their sable wings,
With conscious pride, – they feed – the vocal band
Enliven Nature’s banquet hours with songs
Mellifluous, and, grateful guests, repay,
With melody, the dainties of the board.