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Biology – Goldfinch

Biology –  Goldfinch

| On 31, Aug 2019

Darrell Mann

Goldfinches are some of the most colourful birds to be found in Europe. They eat seeds and houses. Or, more specifically, the mortar that holds houses together. Why do they do this?

Seeds, while nutritious on the inside, usually come with a problem in that they’re tough on the outside. Some birds solve this problem by having well-developed jaw muscles that are capable of crushing the seeds. Some birds open them by banging them on hard surfaces. Or dropping them from a great height. All of these solutions come with an annoying downside – they take up a lot of expensive resources. And all because the seeds are tough to open. From a TRIZ Contradiction Matrix perspective, they’re too stable, and because they’re too stable, the bird’s productivity is lower than would be desirable. Here’s what that problem looks like when mapped on to the Matrix:



Suggestion number 1 is Principle 24, Intermediary. And that’s where mortar enters the story. The reason goldfinches eat mortar is because it seems to contain the perfect grit size for crushing seeds as the pass through the bird’s crop and into its stomach. Get the grit to do the hard work. Perfect. Apart from my crumbling house. But maybe that’s merely the next evolutionary contradiction?