Why are Dutch bullfinches goldfinches?

In Britain, Carduelis carduelis is the goldfinch, quite reasonable with its yellow flashes in the wings. And Pyrrhula pyrrhula is the bullfinch, probably because it is fairly chunky. But in The Netherlands, P. pyrrhula is the Goudvink, which translates as goldfinch. Can anyone explain why, please?

And C. carduelis is Putter. I don’t know what that translates as. Drinker? Because its face looks dipped in red?

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I ran across this on the Web: “Goldfinches were popular pets, as they could be taught tricks like drawing water from a bowl with a miniature bucket.” Presumably the origin of putter.

Common names of birds in English and presumably other languages don’t always follow their taxonomic arrangement. For instance, lots of unrelated birds named bunting.

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Can gold be used instead of red? Use of colour in the name leads to something like that.

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Er is geen gelijkenis met AN goudvink = Pyrrhula pyrrhula, of E goldfinch = AN putter = Carduelis carduelis, beide in Europa bekende vogels, behorende tot de vinkachtigen.



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What exactly do you mean?
I this part talks about name being a mistake? Though that way it wouldn’t be used now? Why there’s no “Bloedvink” on iNat that is mentioned there?

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Probably a mistake in ca. 1618, when people thought the Englishmen called Pyrrhula pyrrhula goldfinch. But I am not an expert in etymology.

It wouldn’t be the only time a common name arose from a mistake.

That’s very interesting and sad at the same time.

Thanks for the responses. I can’t read Dutch, but it sounds from the other comments that it got its name by mistake?


Here’s a bit on “Putter”, from this site: https://www.vogelwachtdelft.nl/home/?p=8443

Rough translation:
A creeper creeps and a diver dives. But what does a putter do? A putter puts. Huh? Well, not in the wild, but when caged and taught by humans.

And we started that a long time ago. Ever since the Romans in the 1st century AD, thanks to Pliny the Elder, we have known that goldfinches could learn to lift (to draw, “put”) their own water. Pliny freely translated:

“The little Goldfinches do what they are taught, not just with their voices, but also with their beaks and feet, which they use instead of hands.”

Goldfinches could draw water in their so-called goldfinch house with a small bucket by pulling a chain with their beak and holding it with their feet. Some houses also had a cart with food that they could pull inside. A goldfinch house looked like this in the 17th century:
(see the linked article)

The name putter has existed in Dutch since 1640 (and since 1555 under the name petter). Originally that name was only given to the caged goldfinches and the name distelvink (“thistle finch”) (already found as distelvinc around 1240) continued to exist for the wild birds (WNT). So putter has taken on a meaning associated with its ability to draw water. And in English that is even clearer: there we find the common name water-drawer.

Eigenhuis (2004) wonders, however, whether this is also the original meaning of his name. It happens more often that bird names ‘among the people’ get a different interpretation due to all kinds of new developments or events and that the old meaning is diluted and eventually no longer known.

Eigenhuis thinks of a derivation of the Middle Dutch puederen (rooting), which gives putter the meaning of rooter. An explanation for this possible meaning could be that goldfinches can be found on thistles from which they try to extract seeds. But we cannot say for sure.


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