Siskins the Missing Garden Finches

January 28, 2015

in Birds, Gardening For Wildlife

Where are my Siskin visitors?

I do get siskins on my garden feeders during the depths of winter but this year they have decided to stay in the countryside. Now I know why thanks to Clare Simm of the BTO Garden !

Siskin on garden feeder Nurturing Nature


News Release
Missing: Garden Finches

This winter has seen incredibly low numbers of Siskins, a small finch that traditionally turns to our gardens for food during the winter, according to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Garden BirdWatch. This is probably due to a bumper crop of Sitka Spruce seeds, but with the recent drop in temperatures, will Siskins return to our gardens before the winter is out?

Siskin by John Harding/BTOThe presence of all birds in gardens is dependent on food availability in the wider countryside and the weather. This particularly applies to Siskins, which love nothing more than the seeds of the Sitka Spruce tree. In years where there are lots of seeds available, Siskins have less need to come into gardens in search of food, except when the weather is wet and the Sitka Spruce cones close up.BTO Garden BirdWatch data show that Siskin numbers usually start to increase in gardens by the end of the year, as the amount of natural food diminishes and the weather worsens. However initial results suggest that at the end of 2014, Garden BirdWatch saw the lowest proportion of gardens reporting Siskins since the survey began in 1995. According to the Forestry Commission, 2014 looks like it was another good year for Sitka Spruce which, combined with a relatively mild and dry winter so far, could be why Siskins are missing from gardens this winter.Clare Simm, from the BTO Garden BirdWatch team, commented: “It’s always exciting to see a Siskin in the garden, but this year fewer Garden BirdWatchers have had that treat than ever before in the survey. We wouldn’t know this without the help of the public, so if you spend a few minutes each week watching what the birds get up to in your garden, why not get involved? You can contact us for a free magazine and information pack on how to take part.”Will Siskins come flooding back into our garden with the cold weather, or will the Sitka Spruce crop keep them away? Help us find out!To get your free magazine and information pack, or to find out more about the BTO Garden BirdWatch please get in touch by emailing, telephoning 01842 750050, or write to GBW, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU. More information can also be found at
British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk.  IP24 2PU
Registered Charity No: 216652 (England & Wales) SC039193 (Scotland)
Company Limited by Guarantee No. 357284 (England & Wales)
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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Marian January 28, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Hi George
No siskins sadly but greenfinch, bullfinch blackcap long tailed tits, and striking goldcrest, our smallest bird, sighted two in our evergreens. Topping up feeders twice a day. Will keep a lookout for siskins.
Regards Marian


nurturingnature January 30, 2015 at 4:47 pm

Marian, that also is a very nice list, esp 2 goldcrests! Looking forward to spring… 🙂 Cheers George


roger wood January 28, 2015 at 4:57 pm

No siskins but lots of others such as blue tit, great tit, coal tits, long tail tit, goldfinch, chaffinch, nuthatch, greater spotted woodpecker, and lots of blackbird on the ground. Feeders are topped up once per day at the moment, but with the snow coming in we all need to look after our feathered friends. regards Roger


nurturingnature January 29, 2015 at 3:56 pm

Nice to hear from you Roger and nice bird list! Keep up the good work! Cheers, George


Linda February 22, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Last winter we had siskins, bramlings and redpolls on our feeders but no sign of any of them this year. Is it something to do with the weather, we have all our usuals, tits, finches etc and also 3 jays that feed from our hanging bird table.


nurturingnature February 23, 2015 at 8:08 pm

Difficult to say Linda, perhaps this story is similar for these birds? Cheers, George


gill July 6, 2015 at 9:02 pm

Hi recently saw a bird landed on my friends foot while near water at Scarborough could you help me identify it , It was a young bird loely to look at , had a speckled breast , small beak , and bits of yellow on tail . gs


nurturingnature July 7, 2015 at 7:06 pm

Sorry Gill, this time of the year there are many young birds that don’t look like their parents.. difficult to say what it is…Cheers, George


Justine March 5, 2017 at 9:18 am

Reading this is interesting,I live in Yorkshire and since the middle of February my garden has Benin abundant with siskins ,yesterday mixed with greenfinch and goldfinch,1bullfinch ,chaffinches, brambling and 13siskins, they are loving the nijer and sunflower seeds ,unfortunately though the jackdaws scare them off throughout the day .


nurturingnature March 5, 2017 at 9:01 pm

Thx for sharing sounds lovely G


Justine March 5, 2017 at 9:58 am

I also have a bird I can’t identify, im new to bird watching it appears to look like a yellow browned warbler , close to a Siskin with a definition yellow line above eye with a dark line through has a stripe on head too .
My dad tells me I wouldn’t have a warbler in garden, sadly I’ve been unable to get a picture of it . It seems to fly from my large fir tree and shelters in overgrown bushes mixture of trees at the back of my garden .
Any suggestions to what it may be ?


nurturingnature March 5, 2017 at 9:00 pm

Try rspb site Justine. Cheers G


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