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.”
He continued “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.”
The BTO has charted a long-term increase in Siskin numbers nationally, the birds benefitting from the extensive areas of conifer plantation that are now reaching maturity and producing seed. Siskins feed and nest in conifer plantations, their population having increased by 77% since 2004.
Unlocking the science to reveal the state of nature
David Noble takes a sober look at the latest State of Nature Report.
What effect might annual releases of non-native gamebirds be having on native biodiversity?
Henrietta Pringle reveals the work behind a recent paper on gamebirds and predation