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.

Facts & figures

Crucial date: April until June
Inscription: 2014
Domains: knowledge and practice concerning nature and the universe
Where to find: Harz (Saxony-Anhalt, Lower Saxony)


Buchfinkengilde Harz
Horst Rieche

Dieter Spormann

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.


Wissen. Können. Weitergeben..
Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission, 2019