Full Screen Image – European Goldfinch, Glen Convinth, Highland Scotland ©Nick Sidle
Following existing results showing a 70% increase in reports of Goldfinches in UK gardens in recent years, the British Trust for Ornithology is conducting a survey into the feeding preferences of the birds to try and understand what might be driving the phenomenon and possible impacts on their behaviour of bird feeders and the provision of seed. The survey runs from November 2015 to February 2016 and anyone can help by taking part and any results would be welcome, all it needs is two minutes of observation in your own garden and the ability to recognise a Goldfinch, which is not too difficult since they are one of the most colourful and distinctive of British birds and there are plenty of photographs on the internet and in books to help you get it right. Full instructions on what to do and how to send in results can be found on the BTO website:
The instructions for the survey include that it is not necessary to be putting seed out for Goldfinches to take part, observations on what else they are eating are just as valuable. I suspect the Goldfinches would like to point out that this can be read in two ways. The first is that it is not a mandatory requirement to put out seed for them to join in with the survey, but the other way of looking at it is that you are not being told to avoid feeding them to be in on the initiative. The choice is entirely up to you and they might just like to suggest that the second interpretation has a lot to be said for it and that niger seed is rather special.
European Goldfinch – Carduelis carduelis