“Charms” of Goldfinch will often be seen feeding in meadows on thistledown and teasel.

Their love of prickly plants has led to the birds being associated with Christ’s Passion.  The story goes that a goldfinch flew down to the cross and pulled a thorn from Christ’s brow leaving the bird’s faces splashed with the blood of Christ. 

Madonna and Goldfinch by Raffael 1505-6

In the renaissance goldfinch are often placed in pictures with the Madonna and child, as in the above image where the bird is in Christ’s hands forewarning us of the crucifixion.  The birds are also seen next to John the Baptist and Saint Jerome.  

Other common names are Saviour Birds, Thistle Tweakers and Thistle Finch. (There must be many other names for these very distinctive birds)

In the 19th century Goldfinches were were caged like canaries and renowned for their beauty and pretty song.    

My image of a goldfinch has been reproduced as a greeting card