Common Linnet

The Common Linnet, Linaria cannabina, also known simply as the Linnet, is a small passerine bird in the finch family, Fringillidae, that is native to Europe, North Africa, and western Asia. It is a common sight in fields, meadows, and hedgerows, and is known for its beautiful song and striking plumage. These particular birds were in a small field down by the rio Chillar dry riverbed in Nerja.

Linnet, Nerja

Appearance and Characteristics

The Common Linnet is a small bird, measuring around 13cm in length and weighing between 14-20g. The male has a striking crimson-red breast and forehead, while the rest of its body is a soft brown color. The female is less colorful, with a more subdued brown and grey plumage.

One of the most distinctive features of the Common Linnet is its bill, which is short and conical in shape, and perfectly adapted for cracking open small seeds. The bird also has a melodious song, which is often heard during the breeding season as males sing to attract a mate.

Habitat and Distribution

The Common Linnet is a common bird throughout Europe, with populations also found in North Africa and western Asia. The bird is most commonly found in open habitats, such as meadows, fields, heathland, and hedgerows. It is also known to inhabit coastal dunes and sandbanks.

male Linnet, Nerja

Breeding and Diet

The breeding season for the Common Linnet begins in late April or early May, with the male singing to attract a mate. Once a pair has formed, they will build a small nest in a low shrub or hedgerow, using grass, twigs, and moss. The female will then lay a clutch of 4-6 eggs, which she will incubate for around two weeks.

The diet of the Common Linnet consists mainly of small seeds, such as those from thistles, dandelions, and other plants. The bird’s bill is perfectly adapted for cracking open these seeds, and it will also eat small insects and spiders during the breeding season. Its role in seed dispersal and pollination make it an important part of many ecosystems.

Conservation Status

The Common Linnet is not currently considered to be a species at risk, with populations stable or increasing in many areas. However, like many bird species, the bird’s habitat is under threat from human activities, such as intensive agriculture and land development. Additionally, the use of pesticides and herbicides can reduce the availability of the seeds that the bird relies on for food.

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