Wednesday, 7 March 2012
It's good to read that goldfinches are thriving in the nation's gardens. These delightful birds are very numerous down my way, and always a joy to see - but they rarely appear at my garden bird feeders. Perhaps, like other smaller species, they're scared away by the gang of house sparrows that does its noisy, boisterous best to monopolise the garden food supply. Happily the sparrows are such messy eaters that the ground-feeding dunnocks, blackbirds, wood pigeons and collared doves (and the odd song thrush) all benefit from their litter. Starlings - which, like house sparrows, are in national decline - feed almost as enthusiastically, and can hold their own against most competitors. But all retreat from the scene when the ring-necked parakeets swoop down and latch themselves on to the feeders until they've had their (very substantial) fill. The exotic parakeets - greedy and insolent birds with nerves of steel and ugly shrieking voices - are not in the Garden Birdwatch Top 20, but, given the rate at which they're spreading, I fancy they will be before long. I'd sooner have goldfinches any day.