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Are you seeing Bullfinches…

…in your garden?

Bullfinches are being seen in more gardens than ever, according to the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) Garden BirdWatch Survey.

Records from approximately 11,000 citizen scientists, recording for BTO’s weekly Garden BirdWatch Survey, indicate that Bullfinches are being seen in more gardens than ever this year! Bullfinches were seen by 19% of Garden BirdWatchers in April 2018, which is almost double the average (1995-2017) for this month. These figures follow on from a record high last winter, after a successful breeding season. Our Annual Results for 2017 show a 16% increase in the percentage of gardens reporting them compared to 2016.

Bullfinches are enigmatic and secretive birds, often seen in gardens with a lot of cover, usually close to their natural woodland and scrub habitats. We’ve seen long term decline in Bullfinches since the 1970s, which is thought to be due to agricultural intensification and a reduction in food availability and nesting cover in woodlands. However, since 2000 they appear to have been increasing nationally, according to BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey, but we have no clear explanation as to why. We’ve also seen an increase in the percentage of gardens reporting them since the start of the Garden BirdWatch survey in 1995.

You’ll see them feeding on seeds of fleshy fruits and flower buds, and they will also take sunflowers and other seeds from hanging feeders. At this time of year you may also see them foraging for invertebrates for their chicks. Listen out for their soft ‘peu’ call, or look out for the bright pinkish-red underparts or the male, and pinkish-grey of the females, both with a black cap that extends over their large, robust bills. Whilst these sedentary birds are seen year-round we see a striking peak in garden sightings in June, which is thought to be when parents bring newly fledged young to gardens to feed. Will we continue to see record counts during their peak in early summer?

Claire Boothby, Garden BirdWatch Development Officer at the British Trust for Ornithology, said “2017 saw record reports of Bullfinches from October-December and this year we are on track for the highest-ever records. Will this be the case? We need your help to find out.

Kate Risely, Garden BirdWatch Organiser at the British Trust for Ornithology, said “Not only was 2017 a great year to see Bullfinches, we also recorded more Pied Wagtails (+32% gardens per week), Song Thrushes (+15%), Goldcrests (+11%), and Goldfinches (+5%) in gardens than we did in 2016.

We have the Annual Results of 39 bird species showing the highs and lows of 2017 on our HERE.

You can help us to learn more about our garden birds and other wildlife. To find out more about the survey and how to get involved visit the BTO Website , email us at mailto:gbw@bto.org or call us on 01842 750050

Claire Boothby BTO

14th May 2018