The distinctive breeding season call of the male greenfinch is a repeated, harsh, drawn out call reminiscent of a long-tailed cuckoo but not quite so strident.

According to Heather & Robertson, the greenfinch often nests in loose colonies, sometimes within a few metres of each other. The nest is cup shaped, composed of twigs and moss lined with rootlets and feathers; placed in a shrub or tree, usually at varying heights, and built by the female. The eggs are dull white to greenish–blue, sparingly marked red-brown and pale violet, approximately 21 mm by 15 mm. Incubation is 13–14 days, by the female. After the young hatch, they are fed by both parents.

Sub Species:

Other common names:  — 

Green linnet, european greenfinch, green grosbeak.

Description:  — 

Introduced bird

14-16 cm., 28 g., dull green with green-yellow streaked wings and side of tail; tail black and forked; heavy ivory bill; large head. Female is duller, yellow less obvious; juvenile has duller bill and plumage.

Where to find:  — 

Widespread and common.

More Information:  — 

»»»  Greenfinch page

Poetry:  — 

The Green Linnet

Beneath these fruit-tree boughs that shed
Their snow-white blossoms on my head,
With brightest sunshine round me spread
Of spring’s unclouded weather,
In this sequestered nook how sweet
To sit upon my orchard-seat!
And birds and flowers once more to greet,
My last year’s friends together.

One have I marked, the happiest guest
In all this covert of the blest:
Hail to Thee, far above the rest
In joy of voice and pinion!
Thou, Linnet! in thy green array,
Presiding Spirit here today,
Dost lead the revels of the May;
And this is thy dominion.
While birds, and butterflies, and flowers,
Make all one band of paramours,
Thou, ranging up and down the bowers,
Art sole in thy employment:
A Life, a Presence like the Air,
Scattering thy gladness without care,
Too blest with any one to pair;
Thyself thy own enjoyment.

Amid yon tuft of hazel trees,
That twinkle to the gusty breeze,
Behold him perched in ecstasies,
Yet seeming still to hover;
There! where the flutter of his wings
Upon his back and body flings
Shadows and sunny glimmerings,
That cover him all over.

My dazzled sight he oft deceives,
A Brother of the dancing leaves;
Then flits, and from the cottage eaves
Pours forth his song in gushes,
As if by that exulting strain
He mocked and treated with disdain
The voiceless Form he chose to feign,
While fluttering in the bushes.

— William Wordsworth

Credit for the photograph: — 

Illustration description: — 


Gould, John, Birds of Europe, 1832-37.

Gould, John, Birds of Great Britain, 1862-73.

Reference(s): — 


Heather, B., & Robertson, H., Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, 2000.

Oliver, W.R.B., New Zealand Birds, 1955.

Page date & version: — 


Tuesday, 20 May 2014; ver2009v1


©  2005    Narena Olliver,    new zealand birds limited,     Greytown, New Zealand.