Sound­track to the Bri­tish sum­mer­time

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

AREN’T chaffinches lovely? Isn’t it an ab­so­lute treat that th­ese won­der­fully colour­ful birds come to visit our gar­dens?

A pair of th­ese beau­ti­ful crea­tures are reg­u­lar vis­i­tors to our bird ta­ble, even more so when they are feed­ing their young.

The fe­male is ac­tive all the time while the male joins in, but then rests on the ta­ble and lies flat on its belly ev­ery so of­ten.

And they aren’t ex­actly shy when it comes to ask­ing for food from hu­mans – they are one of our cheeki­est birds.

The chaffinch is a com­mon spar­row-sized finch liv­ing in gar­dens, wood­land, parks and farm­land.

You will see it in pub­lic places where birds are fed by vis­i­tors, and it will get quite close to en­sure it gets richer pickings than other, more skit­tish, birds.

Apart from visit­ing bird tables they feed on seeds and in­sects. They are seen hop­ping round on the ground and look­ing for bugs un­der bushes.

Chaffinches are present all year round and nearly six mil­lion pairs breed in the UK in sum­mer. Chaffinches build neat, bowl-shaped nests in trees and shrubs.

We have an es­ti­mated 58,000 pairs in the north west (Bird Atlas fig­ures) which is one per cent of the na­tional pop­u­la­tion. And there are more in win­ter fly­ing over from north­ern Europe, with more than 100,000 birds hol­i­day­ing here. This makes the chaffinch the se­cond most com­mon bird in the re­gion be­hind the wren. No won­der we see them all over the place.

The male chaffinch is one of the most colour­ful gar­den birds with a blue-grey crown, brown back and pink breast. Fe­males are brown but are less streaky than fe­male house spar­rows, and have white shoul­der patches and wing­bars – they are easy to tell apart.

And hear them too, they have a loud and lovely song, which is a recog­nis­able sound­track to spring and sum­mer.

Three or four notes start the process, fol­lowed by the same notes but qui­eter and then a lively flour­ish – it can be re­peated quite of­ten. It’s a beau­ti­ful flow­ing song, which adds a spring to your step.

As I speak, our chaffinches are rul­ing the bird ta­ble, the bloke is ly­ing on his belly just soak­ing up the sun, while mum is run­ning around tak­ing food to fledglings some­where close by. It’s a lovely north­ern fam­ily scene.

As sum­mer rolls on, make sure th­ese bright vis­i­tors con­tinue to come to your bird ta­ble by keep­ing it stocked with food. There is a lot more food buzzing around but that ex­tra nour­ish­ment al­ways helps, es­pe­cially with young birds com­ing into the equa­tion.

And ap­pre­ci­ate all your vis­i­tors, as spar­rows and star­lings are as im­por­tant as the show-off chaffinches too.

To be­come a mem­ber of the Trust go to the web­site at lanc­swt.org. uk or call 01772 324129. For more in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­dlife trust.org.uk.

A fe­male chaffinch feed­ing on a bird ta­ble

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