Soundtrack to the British summertime
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