Goldfinches (the European one Carduelis carduelis) are likely contenders to arrive at the seed feeders for the 2015 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch during the weekend of 24-25 January – or are they?
Below you'll find a variety of videos (all taken through my gardenwatch window) to help you ID a Goldfinch if you are new to taking part with a count or discover this rather tropical looking bird in your garden and are wondering what it is.
There’s no doubt photographs are ideal for helping ID birds visiting the garden but watching video footage helps even more. Video shows more of the character of birds, their behaviour, their flight style and what they look like at a distance.
Prior to Christmas we were seeing regular, good sized flocks of Goldfinches during a cold spell and that is definitely a trigger for busy feeders. So… for a good count we need bad weather then? No doubt about it, yes, hard frost and snow covered ground makes it difficult for birds to find food so they come to gardens.
It seems that the bigger the group of one species (the Goldfinch here) the higher the chances of other species tagging along (like the Redpolls below). That's a bonus for gardenwatching too! Due to heavy demand, I went to my local garden centre and picked up a 12 port feeder that you’ll see proved very popular below. What fun it has been to watch :-)
The back view of colour and tail patterns, shape and length are useful to know as birds don’t always face our windows or cameras. In the case of the Goldfinch the contrasting black tail to the buff coloured back makes it easy to spot especially with the small tidy row of white dots on its black tail. You don’t need to see the yellow strip on its wings to know you are looking at a Goldfinch.
Small nyjer seed feeders have periods of popularity in my garden. Below, back on a sunny morning in May 2013, you can get a good clear view of the back of a Goldfinch which followed the Redpolls to this feeder. The Redpolls kept ownership but shared some of the time.
The end of January could realistically see snow for the RSPB bird count and out of all the birds that have visited my garden during heavy snowfall the delicate, tropical looking Goldfinches are by far the hardiest. This I found quite a surprise but perhaps it makes sense as the energy the food gives to keep them warm will be greater than with bigger birds so they risk the elements and possible Sparrowhawk predation.
So… if there is snow during your count, look out for Goldfinches. Many other birds could be hiding in shrubs, trees and hedges but the Goldfinches could be found just quietly chillin at your feeders. Also, if you have one of these feeder trays seen below you’ll need to knock some snow off as they won’t be able to land and find the food that has fallen there.
Ah… but will Goldfinches do like the other birds seem to and go hiding when you decide to count… perhaps. Timing when you do your count might help your numbers. In the case of Goldfinches they are not the real early birds! My captures are often from 9:30 to 10:30am on a cold day but lunchtimes can be busy too.
It’s after midnight as I write this (to schedule for publishing in the morning). If there are any early bird Goldfinches come daybreak they are going to be a tad confused. Why? Well, it is pretty stormy outside just now and I’ve just taken all the hanging feeders I was able to down so they don’t fly off their hooks and hit my gardenwatch or greenhouse windows.
It’s not very pleasant at all – strong winds, heavy rain, thunder and lightning! I think sleeping will be a problem tonight. Hope it’s calmer with you. Ha-ha… I’ll have to picture chillin Goldfinches or think about counting Goldfinches at the area where the new 12 port feeder was to get myself to sleep ;-)
Copyright: Original post published on http://blog.shirlsgardenwatch.co.uk/ by blog author Shirley, January 9th 2015.