Even though my regular finches had been conspicuous by their absence in the garden one of my favourite birds, and one of the tiniest, was often flitting around the flower pots hunting insects:
The wren (Troglodytes troglodytes, Dansk: gærdsmutte)
The word ‘troglodyte‘ has derogatory connotations so I wondered why the taxonomic name for the wren uses it twice, and apparently it originates from the Greek for ‘cave dweller’. Even though the BTO website lists its habitat as woodland and undergrowth as it’s an insectivore I guess that could make sense in some countries, so I guess it may depend on the nationality of the scientist who named it.
Wrens are tiny, weighing on average 10g and with a 15cm wingspan. They’re resident in the UK and I think it’s remarkable that such a tiny creature can survive a long cold British winter. A real testament to the effectiveness of feathers as insulators. And another amazing thing about wrens is their voices, they have incredibly loud song for such a tiny bird, if you’d like to hear it click here: Eurasian wren song.
Yet another remarkable fact about the humble wren is that it’s the most numerous songbird in the UK with 7.7 million territories. And as they’re not always easy to see as they flit around the undergrowth I was surprised by that statistic until I learnt to recognise the song. After that I realised they are everywhere!
This little chap appeared one day in February this year on a bug hunt in the flower pots, he posed right outside the window and let me snap a series of portraits. Wrens have been regular visitors through this year and I’ve deliberately avoided tidying the garden hoping they continue to treat it as home.
Until a couple of years ago my garden bird feeders were always visited by lots of finches: chaffinch, goldfinch, greenfinch, even the occasional siskin. But then the goldfinch disappeared from the feeders, I didn’t see a single one for around 18 months, and then, even more bizarrely, the chaffinch stopped visiting. Greenfinch were always occasional visitors even though I could hear them in the nearby trees, but they seldom came in to feed.
I don’t know what caused the finches to change their habits but it made my garden rather less colourful.
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis, Dansk: stillits) – a rare visit to the niger seed
In the last year or so I’ve seen goldfinch on my TV aerial and regularly in the front garden around the pond, but they still tend to avoid the back garden even though there is always a feeder full of niger seed for them. I often see and hear both chaffinch and goldfinch in the nearby fields when I walk the dog, so they are still in the area, and chaffinch seemed just as common as ever… except in my garden. But goldfinch sightings increased over spring this year as did those of chaffinch:
An erstwhile unusual visit from a male chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs, Dansk: bogfinke)
And along with chaffinch and goldfinch, greenfinch have also been visiting more frequently, and in springtime this year there were a family with a couple of young:
Adult male greenfinch fuelling up (Chloris chloris, Dansk: grønirisk)
And one of his fledged brood:
The male and a fledgling feeding together:
It’s a mystery why they moved away, maybe sparrowhawk visits became to frequent, or maybe because of recent warmer winters there is enough easily accessible food in the countryside. I stopped feeding the birds later in the spring because the seed was left uneaten and it began to go mouldy, but now the weather is getting cold I’m going to clean the feeders and refill them for the winter. And keep my fingers crossed the birds find them to their liking.
Posted in Birds, Finches, Garden birds, Histon, Ornithology, Songbirds, UK wildlife
Tagged chaffinch, consequences of warmer winters, finches, garden birds, goldfinch, greenfinch, histon, population changes, siskin, sparrowhawk