Lesser Redpoll: our ‘new’ garden finch

The finch family boasts many popular garden birds, including Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Bullfinch. More recently, a growing number of people have been able to add Lesser Redpoll to this list. Results collected through the year-round BTO Garden BirdWatch survey show a 15-fold increase in the use of gardens by Lesser Redpolls during early spring over the past five years.

Lesser Redpoll graph (photo by Mike Gough)

BTO Garden BirdWatch data reveal a big increase of Lesser Redpolls in gardens.

Lesser Redpolls are a terrific addition to any garden, bringing with them lots of activity and lively twittering. They are sociable birds, often travelling with Siskins and Goldfinches during early spring. Their increasing use of bird feeders – particularly of nyger seed – is of considerable interest and importance because Lesser Redpolls are a species of high conservation concern.

Early spring sees their abundance in gardens peak, so now is a great time to find out more about them. To help, the BTO has produced a

Lesser Redpoll factsheet (PDF, 334.66 KB)
. This includes a helpful section on ID, which can be a headache. Lesser Redpolls are by far the most frequently seen of the redpoll species in the UK, but occasionally householders will spot Common or even Arctic Redpolls. These birds all look similar so the factsheet highlights helpful distinguishing features.

We've also featured redpolls in past issues of Bird Table magazine, including more info on how to ID them successfully. For a complimentary copy, please email your name and postal address to gbw [at] bto.org.