Three birds are causing a stir amongst twitchers as their sightings in gardens have reached record levels. The birds in question are the goldfinch, Bullfinch and the Reed Bunting. Other species have also been seen in gardens far more than usual, mainly due to the freezing winter conditions eliminating their natural sources of wild food.
As last year ended with a bitterly cold December, the coldest in 100 years and carried on to the make it the coldest winter since the 1980’s, the berries and seeds which these birds normally feed on simply weren’t accessible to them. In order to survive, they had to head for gardens, where they fed on the high energy and oil rich food which householders left out for them.
For some, however, this move from the countryside to gardens seems to be a permanent move. For others, it is likely to be just their way of surviving the wintry conditions. The Goldfinch and Bullfinch seem to be two of the species to make the permanent move, as sighting are still high, despite the much improved conditions.
The British Trust for Ornithology has released these findings, which come from a major monitoring project. They recorded bird numbers across the UK at over 15,000 different locations. The clear winner, which had the largest increase in sightings, was the Reed bunting. This is thought of as a very shy bird, who prefers remote farmlands to anywhere with people.
The downside of the winter is that a great many of our smaller birds, such as Wrens, were virtually wiped out in some parts of the country. The biggest loser was the little Goldcrest. They weigh in less than a 10p piece, at only 6g, and have no substance to fight the off the cold.