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Gardeners save the goldfinch

[Tuesday 07 March 2006]

BRITAIN'S bird-loving gardeners are being given a big vote thanks by ornithologists for saving one of the country's most colourful song birds, the goldfinch.

Thirty years ago, the sparrow-sized finch with its dramatic plumage seemed heading for extinction because of a shortage of winter food in the open fields which were its natural habitat.

But the British Trust for Ornithology reports that it has now made a huge come-back as a garden visitors, thanks to high-energy foods like sunflower seeds put out by garden owners.

The BTO's Garden BirdWatch programme, under which thousands of householders report the number of visiting bird species reports that goldfinches now visit more than half of gardens where people put out feed.

"Thirty or so years ago, Goldfinches were occasional visitors to gardens, appearing in late winter and early spring to feed on small seeds. Participants in BTO surveys noticed goldfinches beginning to feed on peanut feeders and since then there has been a tremendous increase in the use of new foods, like sunflower hearts and, more recently, nyger seed " notes Mike Toms, national organiser of Garden BirdWatch.

"There is no doubt in my mind that people putting out high-energy seed mixes in their gardens have made a real difference for this species. This shows what we, as individuals, can achieve collectively by taking an interest in wildlife and by providing suitable foods at particular times of the year."

  • A new leaflet providing information on how to attract Goldfinches into your garden has been produced by the BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch Team. To receive a free copy of this leaflet, phone 01842 750050, write to GBW (GF), British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2PU, or email gbw@bto.org
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