It seems that every time I feature a bird in my nature notes I am obliged to comment that they are, sadly, "far less common than they once were". Well, here I go again! The linnet (Carduelis cannabina) was a once common bird in wild, open countryside. Maybe not seen as often as many species but in the right habitat one used to encounter large flocks of them; that is now not the case.
In many ways the linnet is just another "little brown job" as my photograph might imply but a male bird seen full frontal has a lovely rosy coloured chest and forehead which makes it easily identified. Confusion with its close cousin, the twite, is possible but the twite is very uncommon in Dorset to the point that it is hardly ever recorded here.
Like all finches the linnet is primarily a seed eater and can be seen in Dorset mainly in winter in small flocks on thistle heads and feeding on the ground where seeds may have fallen. It was once common feeding amongst corn stubble but that is never seen now that the fields are planted and sewn with winter wheat almost as soon as the harvest has finished. The decline of corn stubble matches the decline of the linnet and other seed feeding birds.
It you are lucky enough to see one in spring the linnet has a lovely song and in Mediterranean areas they are kept in cages as song birds.Linnet: stubble and squeak