Thursday, July 28, 2022

European Goldfinch

The European goldfinch is found in Europe, west and central Asia and small pieces of northern Africa. We were in the Sado Estuary in Portugal when our guide noted a "goldfinch" in some weeds. I took a couple of photos, then enlarged my result in my viewfinder and was in shock at the bird before my eyes, not what I would have thought of as a "goldfinch." The front of its face was red, with black blotches on the eyes. The back of the head was black with a white stripe and yellow within it. The back was brown, with a black blotch at the forewing followed by lots of bright yellow. This was a crazy looking bird and I got excited. 
There are lots of different subspecies that are divided into two general subgroups. In the western part of the range they have a black crown, what I saw. In the eastern part of the range they have a gray crown. 

Steglitz, a borough of Berlin, is named after the European goldfinch. Because it eats thistles, it is associeated with Christ's Passion and his crown of thorns. It appears in paintings of the Madonna and Christ child representing the foreknowledge of Jesus and Mary of the Crucifixion, including Raphael's Madonna of the Goldfinch and Barocci's Holy Family where it is held in the hand of John the Baptist. It is also associated with St. Jerome and appears in some depictions of him. 

1 comment:

  1. I love the tie in to Christ's Passion. I'll pay more attention to birds in Christ-centered art now. Nice bit of information. Does it have this same identity crisis of colors and patterns in the paintings you mentioned? I'll have to go look up the works.