Linnet, or Fringilla linota, L. is a very elegant bird, of which there are several varieties: it is of a small size, and a greyish-brown colour; the lower part of its breast is tinged with a line blood-red spot, which disappears in the moulting season, and again becomes visible in the spring.
Linnets are deservedly esteemed for their song: the female constructs her nest in hedges and furze-bushes on heaths; deposits five whitish eggs, spotted similar to those of gold-finches; and broods three or four times in the year.
With a view of teaching linnets to whistle tunes, or to imitate the notes of any other bird, they should be taken from the parent bird, when only between four and ten days old. If removed at this early age, they may without difficulty be taught to modulate their voice, and strike melodious notes, being remarkably docile birds. While young, they should be fed with equal parts of bread and rape-seed, bruised and boiled together, which may be given them several tines a day, properly moistened ; but this mixture must neither be suffered to become sour, nor dry or stiff; 2s, in the former state, it will gripe and destroy them; in the latter, it renders them costive, and thus proves alike fatal.
Linnets are peculiarly fond of linseed, or the fruit of the flax-plant, which they divest of its husk or shell, before it is swallowed. But it deserves to be remarked, that linseed, if allowed them unmixed with rape-seed, bread, canary-seed, etc. is detrimental to their health, and, in a few weeks or months, proves destructive.
It has been attempted to teach linnets to pronounce words like parrots ; and they have sometimes, though with considerable trouble, acquired the art of speaking in a manner more pleasing to children than adults.