All change in the finch family; Siskins and Lesser Redpolls increase while Greenfinches decline
August 2013. Many householders have become familiar with the sight of Siskins and Lesser Redpolls on their garden bird feeders in recent years, and the latest figures from the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) confirm that numbers of both these small finches are increasing nationally. However, Greenfinches, which have been hard hit by the disease trichomonosis, continue to decline.
Siskins are small, bright yellow finches that normally breed in conifer woodlands, and forty years ago they were confined to the highlands of Scotland and Wales. However, the increase of commercial forestry has seen a remarkable increase in range, and in recent years they have started to take advantage of garden food supplies in the winter and early spring, which may have boosted survival rates. The latest BBS figures show that 2012 was a particularly good year for Siskins nationally, with numbers increasing by 28% between 2011 and 2012.
Lesser Redpolls, brown with a red cap, are closely related to Siskins, but have a very different history, having declined dramatically since the 1970s. Like Siskins, however, Lesser Redpolls now appear to be benefiting both from new forestry habitats, and, more recently, from garden bird feeding. The BBS shows that numbers have increased by 55% since the start of the survey in the mid-1990s, and by 25% between 2011 and 2012.