Birds of coniferous plantations
Conifer plantations do not support a huge range of birds, but there are some key species that are nearly always in most plantation. Here are four species to look for in coniferous woodland.
Our smallest tit species is not much bigger than a Goldcrest. More often heard than seen, feeding among the dense needles high up in conifers, they have a variety of ‘pew’-like notes, not wholly unlike those of the Siskin. Coal Tits have black heads with a broad black ‘bib’, white cheeks and a white line on the back of the crown. The back and wings are greybrown and the underparts buff.
Everyone wants to see this big, thick-set finch. Males are red and females greenish yellow (youngsters are streaked). All have the characteristic heavy, crossed-tipped bill. They feed unobtrusively on cones high in trees, but can become noisy in flocks in flight, when ‘chup chup’ calls gives them away.
One of the UK’S commonest birds, the Chaffinch is not too proud to occupy this unpromising habitat, and is typically one of the most vocal birds among the evergreens. Males are distinctive and well coloured, even in the toned down plumage of winter. Females (above) are sparrow-like, but have distinctive white patches on the wings and white outer tail feathers, and share the angular head shape of the males.
The tiny Siskin is another finch which is fond of conifers. They are tit-sized, compact and short tailed. Males have a black cap and bib and are predominantly yellow-green. Females are streaky and brown with yellow/green tones. Listen for the soft, rather sad-sounding ‘pew’ notes.