This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
In all but the breeding season the green linnet is present in flocks throughout Britain, particularly in cultivated and wooded districts. They frequent gardens much less than the chaffinch, but, like them, are to be found around the corn-stacks' and farm-buildings in winter. The green linnet eats but few insects, far less than the chaffinch, and these mostly in rearing the young, yet this is varied with soft seeds or herbage. Its value is mainly dependent upon the weed seeds it eats, but this advantage is discounted by a large quantity of grain consumed in cornfields and much damage sometimes inflicted on sprouting crops of the Orders Cruciferae, Compositae, Leguminosae, it being particularly fond of milled sanfoin seed. In gardens, occasional onslaughts are made on fruit buds and blossoms by greenfinches, but this is very indifferently authenticated, and according to our experience not satisfactorily determined, for it does not follow that because greenfinches are seen about in flocks and even on bushes or trees more or less denuded of buds, they are the culprits. But their services are so restricted in gardens and fruit plantations to command protection, though said to feed the young with small winter moth larvae and various injurious tortrices.
It is also said to be terribly destructive in hop grounds, coming in large flocks and pulling hop flowers to pieces and littering the ground with flower-bracts.
In winter greenfinches roost in evergreen bushes in pleasure grounds, in ivy-clad low trees in hedgerows, and other sheltered places in woods, thickets being favourite hostelries for finches. In these lurking-places some of the greenfinches may be captured by means of the Sparrow Batting Net, in which the net is mounted on bamboo canes 17 ft. long, bent arch shape and designed to fold in the middle, working the bushes or ivy at night, also hayricks and corn-stacks. In winter a train of corn screenings may be placed on the ground in severe weather, the snow being cleared, and when the birds take the bait freely, either wait in ambush and pour into a flock a charge of small shot when feeding and another on the wing, or place a string along the track with a number of horsehair nooses. The nests may be taken in breeding time, but the difficulty is to reach them on account of the restrictions of the game-preserver, and it is also difficult to pour in a volley of shot amongst a flock rising from newly-seeded land, or the harvest field, so wary are the birds.