Watching Nature -The UK Goldfinch

You may have noticed that the once common Greenfinch has all but disappeared from our gardens; this is due to a virus that has seen this bird’s population plummet by 60% in the last 10 years.

The species that has taken its place is the Goldfinch, a beautiful bird that can easily be attracted to your garden by providing food called Niger seed [Nyjer]. You will need a special feeder, costing around £3, as the seeds are so small.

In fact this is good news as no other bird can extract the seed from the tiny opening. You will have no problem with the local squirrel eating the seeds either. I would be most surprised if you didn’t have these lovely birds in your garden after one week. In the wild, thistles, teasels and dandelions are a favourite food along with sunflower hearts.

  • Goldfinches were a symbol of fertility and resurrection and can be seen in many medieval paintings of the Madonna and child.
  • A popular cage bird in Victorian times, they were almost brought to extinction by trapping but are now quite common across the UK due to the work of the RSPB.

As I sit in the garden reading, a goldfinch has settled on a branch not 3 feet above me. A most stunning bird with its bright red face and gold patches on the wings; within seconds it has flown down and is now bathing in my small pond. What a great sight!

The collective name for Goldfinches is a ‘charm’ which, the dictionary says, is to excite love and admiration. Who could argue with that?       Les