Please, please wash your feeders regularly. There’s a nasty parasite that is decimating the greenfinch (and other finch) population.
We noticed it last year - the finches looked puffed up and are desperate to eat but can’t swallow. It was horrid. We now rotate feeders regularly and put more out with smaller quantities so birds don’t congregate as much. (Sadly can’t persuade them to wear masks!)
We had the same thing last year - it was really awful. We found a number of sick or dead greenfinches. I make sure to clean up the feeding places and to clean water dishes and change the water regularly, and it has been OK this year so far. At the moment we have lots of greenfinches, chaffinches and a few sparrows, zillions of bluetits and great tits, a couple of woodpeckers and nuthatches, a pair of tourterelles, a lonesome robin (I think he likes it that way), a little owl that perches on a light fitting outside at dusk. And there is a crowd of twittering goldfinches that do flypasts and land in nearby trees and fields, but never in the garden. I’m surprised to see them at this time of the year.
Many thanks for that point Jane. I haven’t come across problems but wouldn’t necessarily spot them I guess. I’m off to the farmers’ store this week for a rain gauge (rain is heading this way and the last one just got split open by ice), so I’ll get a feeder for the balls too. The woodpecker has only just learned how to swing underneath the ball so he’ll have to teach himself new tricks.
It’s one of the reasons we don’t put out bird feeders any more but rely on providing ample food from the trees, shrubs and weeds/thistles in our garden.
Another reason was that the feeders became an all too easy hunting ground for a merlin in a previous house we lived in.
These days I much prefer our garden to have a natural balance. And judging from the hundreds of birds that are happily living in it - including large flocks of sparrows, long tailed tits and goldfinches - I don’t think they lack for much.
Not where we are. If anything, more than last year. You might have heard that tits and other small passerines in particular are being affected by an avian virus causing increased mortality. France has an increased surveillance system in place for people who find unexpected bird cadavers in their gardens or hedges. Not talking about the avian flu affecting ducks and chickens though, that’s a separate problem.
Beautiful bird. I have to admit that one of my favourite trout flies was ‘The Invicta’. A standard Invicta uses a feather from a jay. Jays, along with all the corvids except jackdaws and choughs, used to be classed as vermin. Jays are protected now.
as a 'throat hackle;
Seen tied in, under the hook shank.
Fortunately many feathers from a wide variety of species are not used now in fly tying. Substitutes, either of synthetic materials or feathers from poultry or game birds are used instead.
Which I don’t begrudge at all. We are very fortunate, being surrounded by arable farmland and so we see many raptors. We’re also up a slope, looking down on the fields so often they are flying below us as well as above. Kites, buzzards, hen harriers, a whole range of hawks, falcons and so on. And I’m only too happy to see them hunting our land. We have a long terrace where sparrows gather and chatter in the vine and in the eaves. Sometimes a hawk will sweep the length of the terrace at head height. That’s fine, BUT (and it’s a big but) I won’t create “hot spots” for them where small birds cluster in an artificial environment. Let each be in natural ratio to the other.