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Heidelberg Historical Society


Posted on Sunday, 20th October 2019 by Janine Rizzetti

From our Facebook site 18 October 2019

Have you seen a goldfinch lately? Not the movie, but the bird.

Goldfinches used to be quite common in the Heidelberg district. A small, colourful, introduced bird, goldfinches were highly sought after as caged birds.

In a memoir held by HHS, Wilfred Osborn (born 1909) remembers being visited at Ivanhoe by his older cousin Clifford Nicholls Whitta, who later achieved fame in Melbourne as ‘Nicky’ on the radio 3LO, 3AW, 3KZ and 3UZ. Some years older than Wilfred, Clifford would dink him around Ivanhoe on his bicycle, along the Boulevard and down to the river. There they would look for goldfinches.

“[Clifford] had an aviary at his home and in the area now known as Wilson Reserve, he caught two or three goldfinches one day with the use of a call bird in a small cage. There were many of these finches there with their pretty colouring of yellow black and red”

At much the same time, in March 1919 a Shire of Heidelberg Council meeting discussed the problem of boys coming out to visit Heidelberg on Saturdays and “destroying” goldfinches. Cr. Keam, who had land down by the river, said that he could not sleep at night for the sound of people shooting birds.

A book at the HHS museum called Birds of Heidelberg and the Yarra Valley by the Warringal Conservation Society listed the goldfinch as “common” in 1981. I’m not sure that goldfinches are quite as common in Heidelberg today.

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count will be held between 21-27th October this year. You can find out more about it at https://aussiebirdcount.org.au/ Last year there were 4174 goldfinches counted Australia wide, coming 97th on their listing of 611 birds.

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