One of the great success stories of modern wildlife gardening has been the increase in the numbers of goldfinch attracted to bird feeders to feast on nyger seed and de-husked sunflower fragments. In 1995 the BTO Garden Birdwatch Scheme revealed these birds occuring in around 25% of participating gardens. This year this figure has increased to around 70%, a great success. Furthermore other species like siskin and redpoll also benefit from these feeders.
However, whilst I enjoy seeing them I don’t think the spectacle of a bird sat for ages on a feeder is as exciting as seeing them feeding on real wild seeds. To get this experience I can recommend planting knapweed in the garden and letting it flower. This plant, originally introduced as a bumblebee forage plant has been steadily increasing on our lawns and this week they have been attended by the finches every day, clambering over the stems to get at the seed heads and putting on a great show. They also seem to go for stinking hawk’s-beard seed too, but that is a story for a later post.