Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage
Finch Manoeuvre in Harz
In the form of the Finch manoeuvre in eight communities in the Harz Region of Saxony-Anhalt a traditional spring custom has been preserved that was originally widespread in Central Europe. At finch manoeuvres the singing capability of chaffinches is assessed and rewarded.
Descriptions of this tradition date back to the 15th Century. Here, knowledge pertaining to the catching and upkeep as well as the breeding, nursing and training of the chaffinches to sing is handed down. Cultural bearers of the finch custom are the so-called “Finker” who are united in the individual societies of the communities in the Harz Region.
The finch competitions are divided into two disciplines: the beauty class and the competitive class, which in turn is subdivided into the strength class and long-distance singing. The training of the exclusively male finches for the various disciplines takes place over a period of several weeks in open spaces and in forest areas
Due to the close contact with the bird the Finker have specialist knowledge of which even ornithologists are in part unaware.
The knowledge and secrets connected with the finch custom have verifiably been handed down in individual families in many Harz villages for at least five generations. The finch competition is strongly anchored in the consciousness of the Harz population, inter alia by way of traditional folk songs.