Wild Bird Mix and how you can help the UK Greenfinch Population to Recover
The Greenfinch is one of our most popular garden birds. Its beautiful green plumage is always a welcome sight but the UK population of this native species is in decline. If you have a garden then you can certainly play your part in helping greenfinches to become a more common sight.
What to Look For
Greenfinches are comparatively large finches with a distinctive fork in their tails. The adult males are mostly olive green in colour except for the yellow edges to their outer wing feathers and tail feathers. They also have a yellowish rump.
The adult females are greyish brown and have underparts tinged with yellow. There is less yellow on their wings than in male birds. Younger birds are similar in appearance to females and can be confused with house sparrows.
Why the Declining Population?
Greenfinches have been adversely affected by changes in agricultural practices. Autumn sowing has meant that there are no stubbles in winter. Flailing has become a common form of hedge management as it is more cost effective than traditional methods. However, flailing removes many of the seeds which greenfinches would usually eat.
The reduction in available food in the countryside has driven the birds to fly farther afield in search of a meal and that means that they will visit urban gardens, especially in winter.
The greenfinch population has also fallen prey to Trichomonosis. This is a disease caused by the parasite Trichomonas gallinae and is common in pigeons and doves but can also afflict finches. An epidemic of Trichomonosis hit Britain in 2006 and 2007. The disease has continued to impact greenfinch populations ever since.
How You Can Help
Greenfinches adapt well to using our gardens. If you provide good nutrition in the shape of wild bird mixture, they will be encouraged to visit. They are happy taking seeds and nuts from bird tables and are increasingly comfortable with eating from hanging feeders. They appear to particularly enjoy black sunflower seeds so make sure these are a feature of your chosen wild bird mix.
It is important to adhere to a sensible hygiene routine in order to minimise the risk of spreading disease. You should clean and disinfect feeders and feeding sites regularly. Use a proprietary product or a weak solution of bleach and then rinse feeders thoroughly before re-using them.
It is best to move your feeders to different positions around the garden from time to time, otherwise you risk a build-up of waste and therefore contamination. If you provide a bird bath then this should be emptied and air-dried frequently.
The greenfinch population has declined dramatically in the last decade but will hopefully begin to recover. Greenfinches are delightful garden visitors. You can attract these appealing birds to your garden by offering the right food and you can help to prevent the spread of disease by maintaining excellent standards of hygiene.