Remember our bird feeder? It was up and running last winter, although all the building work around here meant that neither we nor the birds had optimal peace of mind to really enjoy it. This winter we’re all enjoying it more than ever.

The seed mix – sunflower and peanut – that we optimized in our experiments two years ago remains a great hit with the local birds. This year we improved it further: Eric found hulled and chopped sunflower seeds, which means that we don’t get that mushy pile of sunflower hulls underneath the feeder.

The mix of birds that it brings has changed, though. The Great Tits and Blue Tits are there as usual. The Jays and Nuthatches still come, but they are fewer than they used to be, and same with the Sparrows. The Magpies mostly came in autumn and now haven’t been around much.

Instead we have some new guests.

  • Siskins (Carduelis spinus, siisike, grönsiska) have absolutely dominated during the current cold snap. They move around in flocks of several dozens birds. When they come to feed, they come a few at a time, until there are around 15 of them on the ground beneath the feeder, another few at the feeder itself, and more in the trees and bushes nearby. They’re also easily spooked by bigger birds: when a blackbird or fieldfare flies by, even at some distance, the entire flock of Siskins takes flight in near-panic and flies into the trees. Since they are so many trying to take off at the same time, it isn’t rare for a few of them to hit our kitchen window. Luckily they haven’t gathered much speed yet when they reach the window and usually don’t even knock themselves out but fly straight on. While they sit around in the trees, they chirp and twitter constantly. You really can’t miss them when you walk past our yard. It does not surprise me at all that people like breeding them as songbirds.
  • Blackbirds (Turdus merula, koltrast, musträstas). They were more frequent arlier during the season when it wasn’t that cold yet but they come now, too. Just like the previous years, there’s either a single couple, or they just travel in pairs: I’ve seen single females and single males, but rarely more. They have trouble hanging on to the feeder: neither small and nimble like the tits and sparrows, nor strong like the jays, they struggle and wobble. They’re much happier on the ground. To accommodate them, we now spread food on the ground underneath the feeder, too. (The Siskins like that as well.)
  • Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris, björktrast, hallrästas). A big and bossy bird who likes to have the whole field for itself and chases away any others. It doesn’t hesitate to bully even the jays, who are their size if not larger. It likes to feed on the ground just like the Blackbird. It also likes to just sit there after feeding and look sullen, just because it can.

Among the rarer visitors, there is still the occasional Green Finch or Great Spotted Woodpecker. I also noted a pretty Redpoll (Carduelis flammea, urvalind, gråsiska) the other day.

More Siskins