One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small West African songbird, Pytilia melba (family Estrildidae), the male of which has a bright red face and tail, and a yellow breast.
Late 19th century; earliest use found in Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. From scientific Latin melba, specific name (Linnaeus 1758, Systema Naturae (ed. 10) I. 180), of unknown origin + finch.
melba finch/ˈmɛlbə fɪn(t)ʃ/
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