Continuing on our theme of garden birds I thought we’d have a look at some finches. In our garden here in Ireland, we get greenfinches, chaffinches, goldfinches and bullfinches. Finches are found all over the world. It’s interesting to note that the America Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) looks totally different from our Irish goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis).
Bullfinch – female
As you may be able to guess from their beaks the finches are seed eaters, though they do take some insects too. Chaffinches are among the most common finches. You’ll find all four of the finch species in gardens, parks and hedgerows.
The greenfinches are adept at hanging off peanut feeders as are the goldfinch, but only some chaffinches master the trick. They are seen more commonly underneath the feeders picking up what has been dropped by the other birds. The bullfinches appear to be more shy and I don’t think we have ever seen them on our feeders, though they are regular visitors to the garden.
It’s a good idea to plant things in your garden that will provide finches with food. Teasel is a great plant. And don’t be too quick to pull out weeds. Every spring I love watching the bullfinches as they make their way around the dandelions growing in the gaps of our patio removing the seeds. Allow grass to grow tall too and the birds will come and feed on the seed heads.
You can view photos of all our Irish finches on the Birdwatch Ireland page.
Take part in a garden bird survey. BirdwatchIreland’s garden bird survey starts the 1st of December.
Colour in a chaffinch
Garden Birds is one of the best places to start learning about nature. Even if you aren’t lucky to have a garden perhaps you could visit your local park.
Let’s start with looking at our European Robin.
Robins often live in our gardens, but you’ll also find them living in hedgerows, woodlands and parks too. They can be quite bold and cheeky birds and will often look for worms if you are digging soil in your garden. That is how I managed to get a photograph of this little fellow.
They don’t like the company of other robins in their home area and will often chase them away, unless of course it is the spring and they are looking for a mate. They like to nest close to the ground. Last year a pair created a wonderful nest in some tall grass next to our garden fence. After they’d left we had a look and the nest was tucked away inside what looked like a cave of grass. It’s important never to disturb robins while they are nesting and they will abandon the eggs.
To attract robins in your garden you can provide them with a nest box. They like ones with an open front and it’s best placed among lots of vegetation like ivy or other climbers.
When the chicks hatch they are naked! But they soon get their feathers. They remain a speckled brown colour though and don’t get their red breast till late in the summer.
Robins like to eat worms and other insects, but will also take seeds and fruits. They cannot hang from bird feeders, so it’s a good idea to put some food on a bird table for them.
RESOURCES AND THINGS TO DO
Make you own bird nest box
Colour in a robin