Linnet: the linseed bird
Whilst looking through my Complete Book of British Birds, I was delighted to find that the Linnet derives its name from the French word ‘linnet’ which means ‘the bird that hovers above linseed’.
This delightful small brown songbird is part of the finch family and both its common name Linnet and the scientific name ‘Linaria’ stems from its fondness for hemp and linseed (flax). Linseed being the crop that linseed (aka flaxseed) oil is pressed from. (Linseed and Flax are from the same plant, find out more: https://www.flaxfarm.co.uk/flaxfarm/linseed-flax-and-other-names-1/)
Breeding mainly on agricultural land, the males are distinctive with their red markings on their head and breast, with the female’s plumage being more brown. They are nearly always seen in pairs or family groups, have an undulating flight pattern and more often than not twitter as they fly.
Unfortunately, this delightful slim bird is now declining, as is common with many farmland birds, and is now a Red List species. So, please keep a look out if you are passing fields of flax and I hope it will bring a smile to your face, as it does mine.