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Glamorous Goldfinches Going Strong

Feeders make all the difference

Results just published by the BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch have revealed how one of Britain’s most glamorous songbirds has benefited from food put out by garden birdwatchers. Goldfinch numbers fell dramatically during the late 1970s because changes in farming practices reduced food availability during the winter months. However, British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) research has shown that sunflower seeds and other high-energy seed mixes have provided Goldfinches with a lifeline, enabling the population to recover almost back to where it was before the decline began.

The latest set of results to be published by the BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch scheme have revealed some really positive news for the brightly coloured Goldfinch. The figures show that Goldfinches now visit more than half of all garden feeding stations during early spring, compared with less than a quarter of gardens just 10 years ago. The provision of new high-energy foods, such as sunflower hearts and nyger seed, have helped Goldfinches to survive the difficult winter months when there is little natural seed available within their favoured farmland habitats.“Thirty or so years ago, Goldfinches were occasional visitors to gardens, appearing in late winter and early spring to feed on small seeds. Participants in BTO surveys noticed Goldfinches beginning to feed on peanut feeders and since then there has been a tremendous increase in the use of new foods, like sunflower hearts and, more recently, nyger seed ” notes Mike Toms, National Organiser for the BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch. “There is no doubt in my mind that people putting out high-energy seed mixes in their gardens have made a real difference for this species. This shows what we, as individuals, can achieve collectively by taking an interest in wildlife and by providing suitable foods at particular times of the year” he continued.Mike Toms said “The latest results from the BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch, a year round study of garden birds involving some 17,000 people, also highlight the importance of carrying out long-term studies of how birds use gardens so that we can assess the benefits of providing food for wild birds. I would encourage more people to get involved in this sort of recording.”

A new leaflet providing information on how to attract Goldfinches into your garden has been produced by the BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch Team. To receive a free copy of this leaflet, phone 01842 750050, write to GBW (GF), British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2PU, or email gbw@bto.org

4th July 2014