Sunday, 24 February 2013

What's the attraction?

The star bird of the garden has got to be the Goldfinch: Surely they would be on nearly every desert island list..They usually visit us in ones and twos, and not as regularly or as abundant as in some gardens.   They are of course one of the top performers of the Garden Bird Survey. From a position of 26th in the survey standings back in winter 1994/1995, they have come all the way up to 8th position in the rankings and now occur in 86% of GBS gardens.

Goldfinch: star quality on the move (cOOS)
 So what's the attraction to gardens?  The fine beaked finch is traditionally associated with weed seeds and thistles in particular.  We understand that weeds and marginal space where they thrive are no longer to be found as part of more efficient, modern agricultural practices.  So how have Goldies coped?  By taking to gardens and the offerings on feeders such as peanuts and sunflower seeds, they have joined their close relations, Siskins and Redpolls.  They are also perfectly adapted to exploit the growing popularity of providing Nyjer seed in specialised garden feeders.   Nyjer seed is an extremely fine, black oily seed that was originally marketed as 'thistle seed'.

Nyjer seed is taken from the plant Guizotia abyssinica, an annual herb of the Aster family, and native to the Ethiopian Highlands.  The plant is likely to sprout from seed where birds are fed regularly: it has daisy like flowers, bright yellow in appearance.

Have Nyjer.. will visit! (c.OOS)

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