Siskins have been ever present in my garden over the last month or so, with males, females and family parties all busy wrestling with the Goldfiches over nyjer, mixed seed and sunflower hearts. They are an occasional winter visitor in my garden and certainly not regular through summer in years gone by.
It’s with great interest then to read the latest news from the BTO Garden BirdWatch team. It seems my own local observations are being repeated throughout the UK, and most notably in Wales and Scotland.
Over the past few weeks, BTO Garden BirdWatchers have been charting an unprecedented movement of Siskins into gardens, where the birds have been seen feeding on sunflower hearts and nyger seed provided in hanging seed feeders. The scale of the influx has staggered researchers monitoring how and when birds use gardens and the resources they provide.
As Mike Toms, BTO Head of Garden Ecology, comments:
“The scale of this movement into gardens has caught us by surprise. At this time of the year we would normally see Siskins reported from one in twenty gardens nationwide but this year the figure has jumped to one in seven. In Scotland and Wales these delightful finches are being reported from roughly half of the gardens from which we receive weekly reports.”
“We believe that the influx stems from the combination of a good breeding season – the Siskin is an early breeder so probably benefitted from the good weather at the start of the year – and the poor weather of recent weeks – with the birds turning to garden feeding stations because of difficulty in finding food elsewhere.”
This is the second summer, where observations in my garden have mirrored national trends. Last year I reported the unexpected arrival of a Woodpigeon (back this summer too), but I’ve also witnessed the trend in Goldfinches, with this species being present everyday in the garden throughout the year now.
By contributing to Garden BirdWatch, I not only enjoy the sight of birds visiting the garden, but make a contribution to the national understanding of trends in bird populations as they happen.