Sunday, January 13, 2013


This was a very welcome sight when I looked out of the window yesterday. We've had redpolls in the garden in winter before, feeding on birch seeds, but this is the first time that I've noticed them on the bird feeders. The hard weather, together with a shortage of birch and alder seeds, must have driven them to compete with the siskins and goldfinches for the thistle seeds.

The photos aren't great, because of the reflections in the dirty double glazing and poor light, but the birds let me get reasonably close. The Rev. F.O.Morris, writing in his A History of British Birds (1891 edn.) commented that 'They are gentle and lively birds, and, unless scared, may be nearly approached: they will even return to the same tree immediately after having been fired at'

These days the camera has replaced the gun and they kept coming back to the thistle seeds all day.

This is a handsome cock bird, with his chest feathers suffused with crimson, sharing the feeder with a goldfinch.

The feather pattern on the redpoll's back is particularly attractive.

Siskins and redpolls often flock together in birches and alders but there was some mutual antagonism between them when they shared the feeder, with the siskins generally being the more assertive of the two.


  1. Great post Phil. I noticed, last winter, that if you get a back view of a Siskin and a Redpoll together, and convert the image to monochrome, it is virtually impossible to tell which is which - the 'distinctive' markings are so similar!

  2. Lovely little birds Phil, and great to have them in the garden.

  3. Phil, the word 'jealous' doesn't even come close to describing how I feel right now :o)

    Siskin AND Redpoll in the same shot?!

    In your garden?!

    On the feeder?!

    Happy day!

  4. Certainly did Adrian. We had a very brief visit from a reed bunting this morning too but it didn't hang around to feed.

  5. Hi Richard, I never thought of that - v. interesting because birds don't have the same colour vision as us. It's known that several species - e.g. blue tits - can see right into the ultraviolet, so the colours they see aren't the colours we see...

  6. Delighted to have them around Keith - they were here again this morning. Must keep the feeders topped up!

  7. It makes winter worth all the shivering Graeme, even if I will be struggling to work through snow drifts tomorrow morning...

  8. What a lovely visitor to have in the garden.

  9. They're still here today John - looks like they'll stick around while the severe weather continues..


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