Pyrrhula europaea – A common resident.
In the spring and summer the birds are, for the most part, concealed in the leafy copses where they are nesting, and, as Mr. Dix well remarks, they appear to be more numerous during the winter, because they then leave the woods.
We had always nests in our grounds at Stone Hall, and never interfered with these delightful little birds, in spite of the bad character they bear with gardeners for their destruction of fruit and other buds. One winter our paths were littered with the husks of our lilac buds; a flock of Bullfinches had been frequenting the bushes for days, and we thought sorrowfully that our garden in the following spring would miss the sweet perfume of the flowers; but, to our surprise, we had as good a show of bloom as we had ever had, so we then concluded the birds had only done us good by a judicious thinning of superabundant buds.
We are never without several Bullfinches in our aviary, the larger Russian variety and our homely “Hoop,” because there are no other little birds that are so easily tamed and become so affectionate. Mr. Tracy remarks: “Bullfinches, in confinement, if fed on hempseed, soon change colour, and in two or three years become black. One kept for several years at an inn in Pembroke was quite black, and afterwards changed again to his original colour, which was considered an ill omen, as the landlord died the same year.”