Tag Archives: UK garden birds

Needs as needs must

Two species of bird are said to use niger seed feeders, but up until this winter I’d only ever seen one of them on mine, and that’s the goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis, Dansk: stillits). The other species, that I had never seen was the siskin (Carduelis spinus, Dansk:  grønsisken).

A siskin refuelling on niger seed

Not only had they not appeared on the feeders but I hadn’t seen one for years before this winter. My friend in the village said that he had seen one on his feeders and it was reported that the dreadful weather last year had caused such a shortage of wild seed, the siskins natural food source, that they were showing up in gardens in unusual numbers. Needs as needs must when hunger prevails.

The normal diet of the siskin consists of seeds from spruce, pine, alder or birch trees and they will occasionally feed on invertebrates too. In the photograph above it’s easy to see the long and pointed but powerful beak it would need to extract the seeds from pine cones.

The conservation status of the siskin according to the British Trust for Ornithology is green and they don’t appear to be in any danger, which is unusual in itself these days, so it’s surprising I haven’t seen one for so long. It’s a resident breeder here in the UK and a passage and winter visitor, flying in from further north in Europe.

They are particularly handsome birds and although it’s a pleasure to see them I hope the need to use garden feeders doesn’t go on from year to year or their green conservation status may not last.

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Snug as a bug

About this time last year I published a post about the battling blackbirds in my back garden. The weather last February was mild and vry pleasant and I think the breeding season really got going then. As you can see, full on combat ensued. This year has seen none of the aggression of past year, at least not in my garden, but whilst watching the other birds I noticed this female blackbird making repeated trips to collect moss from my lawn. I’ve never understood why us Brits in particular want our garden lawns to look like the centre court at Wimbledon (before the All England Championships), I’d much rather see sights like this:

Behind the magnificent mossy muzzy is a female blackbird

She has been toing and froing for at least three days now collecting these huge beakfuls of moss and I reckon her chicks are going to be as snug as a bug in the nest she is busy constructing.

The male has also been very busy in the garden but his activities are rather less altruistic…

Seed or fruit, which is it to be?

There might even be a worm under there…

Result! That bloke in there has left me an apple core

All his visits seem to be focussed solely on replenishing his energy supply, but the reason I’ve seen no battles this year is because he’s dealt with the opposition, so I guess he needs to concentrate on feeding himself up again.

The blackbird (Turdus merula, Dansk: solsort) and the fieldfare (Turdus pilaris, Dansk: sjagger), both members of the thrush family, like fruit and any old grapes, apple cores or pears get thrown out for them.