FRINGILLA, the finch, in natural his tory, a genus of birds of the order Passe res. Generic character : bill perfectly conic ; slender towards the end, and ex tremely pointed. Many of this tribe are truly admirable, both for the elegance of their plumage, and the vivacity and me lody of their song. Latham enumerates 96 species, and Gmelin 111 ; of which we shall notice the following : F. domestics, or the house sparrow of Europe, is never found remote from human habitations ; but, following the society of man, builds under the roofs of houses, and in the holes of walls, and will frequently expel the martin from its nest, to save itself the trouble of preparing one of its own. It breeds generally three times in a year. By the destruction of caterpillars, these birds are eminently serviceable ; but their favourite food is grain, to procure which they are constant attendants at the barn door, and notwithstanding every effort to scare them, will dare every danger to par take of the repasts of the poultry and pi geons. They are particularly sagacious as well as daring, and can, with great dif ficulty only, be decoyed by traps. Their sounds areharsh and grating, their dis positions irascible, and their manners in trusive. F. ccelebs, or the chaffinch, is found in England throughout the year, and builds its nest with extreme care and neatness, lining it with hair, wool, and feathers. It is sprightly in its movements, and beautiful in its plumage ; but can boast no peculiar powers of melody. The most singular circumstance attending this species of birds is, that, in some coun tries, the males remain all the year round, while the females are migratory to the south, returning in the spring to their for mer-habitations and companions. Flocks, composed only of females, have occasion ally been seen in Hampshire. This cir cumstance is not peculiar to these birds, but affects equally some other descrip tions. It is in itself, however, not a little curious, and merits attention. P. cardue ]is, or goldfinch, is common in Europe and to be found, though by no means so frequently, in Africa and Asia. It breeds twice a year, and feeds principally on seeds, and especially those of thistles, near which it prefers building its nest, which is formed with great compactness and skill. It begins to sing in April, and continues its song till the periodof breed ing is past. In confinement, however, it will sing for the greater part of the year. These birds are universally admired for the brilliancy of their plumage, and the melody of their sounds ; and they pos sess, moreover, a docility, which renders them particularly interesting, learning, with ease, a variety of ingenious move ments and exercises. They are long
lived, and have been known to survive the age of twenty years. Buffon men tions the case of a goldfinch which sud denly became black, and, after continuing so for eight months, resumed its former sprightly and elegant colouring : this re volution was repeated at two subsequent periods. (See Ayes, Plate VI. fig. 6.)F. spines, or the siskin, is found in various parts of Europe, generally migratory, but at irregular periods, and in very unequal numbers ; the larger flights being sup posed by some naturalists to occur only once in several years. It hides its nest with particular caution : and though vast numbers are to be seen on the borders °tithe Danube, which have not lost their original feathers, their nests have been sought, it is said, in the neighbour hood with great assiduity, but in very few instances with success. It is near ly as tractable as the goldfinch, has great richness and variety of notes, and extraordinary power in imitating sounds. F. canaria, or canary finch. These birds constitute, to some little extent, an arti cle of commerce, being exported from the Tyrol in considerable numbers every year to various other parts of Europe. Buffon enumerates no fewer than 29 va rieties, and devotes 50 pages of his cele brated work to an interesting detail of their manners, habits, and song. They are bred and reared in England in aviaries with great facility ; and the fidelity of their attachments, and delicacy of their attentions, their extreme neatness, paren tal affection, and animated and almost in cessant music, constitute a source of pure and exquisite entertainment to all the ad mirers of artless and interesting nature. F. linaria, or the linnet, is to be met with in every part of Europe and America, and is particularly common in England, where it builds, generally in thorns and furze bushes, and breeds twice in the year. Linnets feed on various seeds ; but parti cularly relish those of the flax plant, from the Latin name for which (linum) they probably derive their name. They can be taught the notes of various other birds, and even to utter words with very distinct enunciation ; but their natural song, ex. pressive of tranquillity, and rapture, and poured out in a strain of richly varied me lody, is infinitely superior to these un meaning and elaborate articulations. Mr. Wilson enumerates 17 species as natives of the United States. For the red pole and the mountain-sparrow, see Ayes, Plate VI. fig. 7 and 8.