A decade ago Goldfinches ( Carduelis carduelis ) would have been a very rare visitor to our garden here in Warwickshire. In recent years however these small birds with their almost tropical, bright coloured plumage seem to be regular visitors and seem to stay with us all winter long.
It is reported that in the 19th century Goldfinches were often kept as caged birds with many individuals being taken from the wild. Thankfully the sale of wild birds is now illegal and their numbers have recovered well with an estimated 1.2m breeding pairs across the UK.
We rarely see Goldfinches visit our bird table or feeders but they often sit around in groups in the taller trees. In winter we see them perched together soaking up the last rays of evening sunshine before the sun sets. It is rather nice that the collective noun for a group of Goldfinches is call a Charm.
Described as a “colourful bird of weedy, over grown rough ground” they feed mainly on thistle heads and teasles and other small seeds (I take no offence as to the indication this gives to the state of our garden – we garden with biodiversity in mind!),
They are very lively and sociable birds and we nearly always see them flitting around the garden in groups. Their twittering song is charming and easily recognisable:
Audio credit: Ruud van Beusekom, Xeno-canto
I am not sure where in the garden they nest but we do see them flying in and out of some of the larger evergreen conifers. Goldfinches nest later in the year than many other garden birds so that there is a good supply of food (mainly regurgitated seeds) for their young. This late nesting may well be something worth considering when planning your hedge cutting regime for next year.
“The Crossley ID Guide – Britain and Ireland” by Richard Crossleyand Dominic Couzens (ISBN: 978-0-691-15194-6)
One thought on “Goldfinch – a colourful winter resident”
Lovely post and pictures. I see them on the allotment site quite often, and occasionally on my plot. xx
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