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Home > Bird Feeding Blog > BTO needs help to solve Goldfinch mystery

BTO needs help to solve Goldfinch mystery

Wednesday, 4th November 2015

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is calling for all gardens with Goldfinches to help them solve a mystery...
The riddle to solve is this: why - when so many familiar songbirds are in decline - have Goldfinch numbers increased by around 80% between 2002 and 2012?

We (Haith's) regularly feed charms of Goldfinch here at The Bird Food Centre and we're convinced their numbers have swollen because we feed sunflower hearts and niger seed; however, our friends at the BTO are conducting a Goldfinch Feeding Survey and they need your help...

If you have Goldfinches in your garden, you’re probably aware that they’re becoming increasingly common. However the reasons behind this are not yet fully understood, so the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is running a Goldfinch Feeding Survey this winter to work out, with your help, exactly what it is about our gardens that they are attracted to.

Goldfinches are an increasingly common sight in our gardens with 70% more BTO Garden BirdWatch participants reporting them now than they did twenty years ago. However we don’t actually know what it is that attracts them to gardens, especially during the winter. Therefore your help is needed this winter to find out what Goldfinches are feeding on, whether it’s the bird food we provide, or the plants that we grow.

Clare Simm, the Goldfinch Feeding Survey organiser said, "It is vital to understand what resources birds are using in our gardens, in order to help them when times are hard. Supplementary feeding in gardens has recently been shown to affect the migratory behaviour of wintering Blackcaps in the UK so it will be fascinating to see if it has also helped the national population of Goldfinches to grow."

Whether you feed the birds or not, if you get Goldfinches please help us by taking part in this survey. All you need to do is count the Goldfinches in your garden for two minutes and record what they are feeding on, if anything.

To find out more about the BTO Goldfinch Feeding Survey or to download the instructions on how to take part, visit

If you have any queries, please contact the Garden Ecology team by phone 01842 750050 or email We completed our first survey this morning and Jayne counted seventeen Goldfinch in two minutes feeding on Haith's sunflower hearts and niger seed
Survey Form


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