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Old Friday 25th April 2008, 17:10   #1
Feathered one
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How to tell the difference in male/female Goldfinch please UK

Yes could you please tell me the main things to look for to tell Male from female Goldfinch.
Have two bird books neither mention this.

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Old Friday 25th April 2008, 17:39   #2
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If you catch the birds for ringing or have good profile photographs - on males the red on the face extends clearly behind the eye, on females it does not. However in some birds, particularly young birds, this is not clear or is intermediate.
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Old Friday 25th April 2008, 17:45   #3
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Agree with GGregory, the best Iding character is extension of red on face. Very difficult character to see in the field though!

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Old Friday 25th April 2008, 17:46   #4
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the male is the one on top

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Old Friday 25th April 2008, 17:56   #5
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You can see the red behind the eye if you look really hard!
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Old Friday 25th April 2008, 18:18   #6
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You can see the red behind the eye if you look really hard!
In other words. "you can't"
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Old Friday 25th April 2008, 18:40   #7
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Au contraire.... you just need to look hard

Boys
http://www.netfugl.dk/pictures/birds...tillits_12.jpg
http://www.netfugl.dk/pictures/birds...0815_TV_01.jpg

Girls
http://www.netfugl.dk/pictures/birds...tillits_09.jpg
http://www.netfugl.dk/pictures/birds...024_ASH_01.jpg

You have more chance (In the field) in seeing the shape of the upper side of the red (ie above the eye) which is sort of more concave on females...
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Old Friday 25th April 2008, 20:23   #8
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Thank you all for answering my question, not an easy id, but will have a good look when the goldies come to the feeder.

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Old Friday 25th April 2008, 21:30   #9
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ummm...I used to breed these birds and the extent of red on the face is not all that reliable. There's considerable variation among individuals with that trait. Sometimes this can be reliable but a lot of times it isn't.

Breeders generally use one of two methods; One way is by looking at the rictal bristles on either side of the gape. They are said to be black in the male and browner in the female. Another way is by looking at the open wing. The males wing coverts are blacker than the females and the yellow is perhaps a bit bolder. The females rump is also a bit browner than the males.

Then there are birds that cannot be told apart at all. Both sexes will sing to but the males song is a little more varied and louder.
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Old Friday 25th April 2008, 22:07   #10
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ummm...I used to breed these birds and the extent of red on the face is not all that reliable. There's considerable variation among individuals with that trait. Sometimes this can be reliable but a lot of times it isn't.

Breeders generally use one of two methods; One way is by looking at the rictal bristles on either side of the gape. They are said to be black in the male and browner in the female. Another way is by looking at the open wing. The males wing coverts are blacker than the females and the yellow is perhaps a bit bolder. The females rump is also a bit browner than the males.

Then there are birds that cannot be told apart at all. Both sexes will sing to but the males song is a little more varied and louder.
Exactly
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Old Saturday 26th April 2008, 00:02   #11
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ummm...I used to breed these birds and the extent of red on the face is not all that reliable. There's considerable variation among individuals with that trait. Sometimes this can be reliable but a lot of times it isn't.

Breeders generally use one of two methods; One way is by looking at the rictal bristles on either side of the gape. They are said to be black in the male and browner in the female. Another way is by looking at the open wing. The males wing coverts are blacker than the females and the yellow is perhaps a bit bolder. The females rump is also a bit browner than the males.

Then there are birds that cannot be told apart at all. Both sexes will sing to but the males song is a little more varied and louder.
Someone should tell the BTO. Seriously, this 'red on face' trait is used with a high degree of reliability by ringers, backed up by Svennson (the ringer's bible).
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Old Saturday 26th April 2008, 05:47   #12
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Someone should tell the BTO. Seriously, this 'red on face' trait is used with a high degree of reliability by ringers, backed up by Svennson (the ringer's bible).
I don't know, I just know this from my past experience and that of other breeders. Extreme cases can be more reliable. In other words if the red extends well beyond the eye, like obviously beyond, chances are it's a male. If it only goes to about two thirds of the way to the rear of the eye, chances are it's a female. Most birds however are somewhere in the middle.

I've worked with both captive birds and wild birds and the people who work with them. I will say that in my experience, breeders tend to be better at sexing than ringers or field workers. Just my experience that's all.

There are three races of the European Goldfinch in Captivity as well. This could have something to do with it. Although Carduelis carduelis major is generally not interbred with britannica or the nominate race.

Last edited by Gentoo : Saturday 26th April 2008 at 05:50.
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Old Saturday 26th April 2008, 06:20   #13
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I don't know, I just know this from my past experience and that of other breeders. Extreme cases can be more reliable. In other words if the red extends well beyond the eye, like obviously beyond, chances are it's a male. If it only goes to about two thirds of the way to the rear of the eye, chances are it's a female. Most birds however are somewhere in the middle.

I've worked with both captive birds and wild birds and the people who work with them. I will say that in my experience, breeders tend to be better at sexing than ringers or field workers. Just my experience that's all.

There are three races of the European Goldfinch in Captivity as well. This could have something to do with it. Although Carduelis carduelis major is generally not interbred with britannica or the nominate race.
I'm sure spring CPs and BPs can't hurt!
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Old Saturday 26th April 2008, 06:22   #14
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I'm sure spring CPs and BPs can't hurt!
I'm drinking wine right now and my brain is on slowdown. Please explain CP and BP? lol
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Old Saturday 26th April 2008, 08:28   #15
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Someone should tell the BTO. Seriously, this 'red on face' trait is used with a high degree of reliability by ringers, backed up by Svennson (the ringer's bible).
The best is to use the combination of characters to sex them and still you'll get a few unreliably sexable ones . I guess that's what Svensson means in his guide about the red in face, using expressions like "average", "generally" and "usually". He also mentions the nasal feathers and lesser coverts differences.
Check this link (in Spanish) with pictures showing the differences:

http://www.ibercajalav.net/img/431_C..._carduelis.pdf
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Old Saturday 26th April 2008, 08:29   #16
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Cloacal protuberances and brood patches... not visible in the field
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Old Saturday 26th April 2008, 13:34   #17
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A good debate on this subject, thank you.

And a great link to those pictures, thanks Motmot

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Old Saturday 26th April 2008, 17:05   #18
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That's a very relevant question over here in Catalonia, as every winter large numbers of male Goldfinches are "legally" trapped. Along with 3 other species: Linnet, Greenfinch and Chaffinch. This is contrary to European legislation but is permitted because Catalonia's government makes use of an "exceptionality" clause due to the traditional nature of this activity. These birds are trapped for singing competitions of caged birds (I know, I've lived here for 20 years and I still don't get it), whereby "bird lovers" take their best singers to club meetings and competitions and sit watching their birds at a distance of some 20 metres or so. I've never been to such a meeting (I'd probably get an unpleasant reception) so I don't know if it's the quality or the duration of the song that counts.

The main problem with allowing such a practice (apart from perceptions of cruelty and its impact on the affected species' populations) is actually trying to police it. As I said, only males can be taken, and in the winter months from October onwards, with a permit. For one thing that means that rural protection agents have to spend a lot of their time checking on permits, quotas and if the "only male" rule is being respected. Over the last few years I have delivered an annual course to the rural guards of Catalonia to help them identify the 4 species concerned, to distinguish males from females and to identify other species of finch which could also be caught in the area.

In the case of the other 3 species differentiating males and females rarely presents a problem to the guards, but with Goldfinches it's a different story. Gentoo perfectly summed up the external features that can be used with a bird in the hands of a rural guard but even then there are many times where the sex of the bird in question still remains in doubt. Try it for yourself: download as many different photos of Goldfinch from the Internet as you can find and try to sound confident when you identify each one as a male or a female.

So the rural guards still have quite a headache, which can usually only be solved by applying more personal interpretations, ie. in case of doubt say it's a female and make the bird lover let the bird go, or else agree with the captor that the bird is a male and let him keep it.

Most of those so-called bird lovers rarely delve into the matter beyond the dicatates of popular tradition, often have no idea that the bird in question has a scientific name (like many birders it seems!), and usally employ quite subjective criteria for separating male and female goldfinches. Their attitude however can be very intimidating for a relatively inexperienced rural guard.

And then there is the proliferation of illegal practices associated with this activity, such as the use of bird glue, recorded bird calls, mutilation of released females so they can be recognised if recaptured, trapping without permits, not respecting quotas, etc.

Judge for yourselves.

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Old Saturday 26th April 2008, 17:10   #19
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The best is to use the combination of characters to sex them and still you'll get a few unreliably sexable ones . I guess that's what Svensson means in his guide about the red in face, using expressions like "average", "generally" and "usually". He also mentions the nasal feathers and lesser coverts differences.
Check this link (in Spanish) with pictures showing the differences:

http://www.ibercajalav.net/img/431_C..._carduelis.pdf
Pretty much yes. I always used a combination of these features myself. Even with that, it can still be a crap shoot but if you get two out of three pointing toward one sex, your chances of getting it right are pretty good.
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Old Saturday 26th April 2008, 17:12   #20
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Cloacal protuberances and brood patches... not visible in the field
True and cloacal protuberances are harder to detect in finches this size as opposed to Canary or House Finch sized birds. Goldfinches also tend to have thicker feathering around the cloaca as well.
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