Not many goldfinches here this winter. I've filled the feeders up with all the things they like, but for the most part the goldfinch has been a no-show.
Which makes the results of the BTO's 2011 Garden BirdWatch interesting reading. Its volunteer garden birders keep track of the species they see throughout the year and feed their data back to BTO HQ, where the numbers are crunched.
And in 2011 the goldfinch registered the biggest change in status of all the GBW species. It's now No. 10 in the GBW rankings, compared to No. 20 when the survey began in 1995. Back in the 1990s goldfinches visited one garden in 10. In 2011 it was two out of three.
Apparently the change reflects a change in both population and behaviour; the national population is a little bigger than it was but goldfinches are also far more ready to visit garden feeders.
The BTO says that's probably because garden feeder design has improved and because more of us put out the sort of foods goldfinches like, such as sunflower hearts and nyger seed. You can read all about 2011 Garden BirdWatch here.