Anyone who feeds birds in their garden will notice Siskins visiting their feeders, especially in the early spring. You might be surprised to learn how far some of these little birds have travelled.
Bird movements are tracked by ringing – placing a lightweight, uniquely numbered, metal ring around a bird’s leg, which provides a reliable and harmless method of identifying birds as individuals.
Ringing aims to understand what is happening to birds in the places they live and how this affects population increases and decreases. This knowledge is vital for conservation. It also gives information on the movements individual birds make and for how long many live.
Keith and Hazel Brockie are trained ringers, and have provided this interesting insight into some of the information that can be gleaned from their work.
“Hazel and I ringed many Siskins in our garden during April 2013, and eight of them were controls – that is to say, birds which had been ringed already, somewhere else in the UK.
Two of these control birds had travelled over 400 miles in a relatively short space of time, with one having been ringed in Sway, New Forest, Hampshire, on the 9th March 2013, and the other in the Honiton Station Area, Devon, on the 26th January 2013. A third Siskin had come almost as far – from Alderton, Suffolk where it was ringed on the 24th February 2013.
Three others had travelled between 200 and 300 miles, previously being ringed in Clairegate, West Midlands (284 miles), Great Warford, Cheshire(236 miles) and Marple, Greater Manchester (233 miles) just a few weeks before. Two relative locals had come from Peebles and Gauldry in Fife – the latter having flown 65 miles in 3 days!
Also, on the 18th April 2013, we caught a male Lesser Redpoll (pictured) that had been ringed in Brandon, Suffolk on the 9th March 2013, some 342 miles away
The winter of 2012/13 saw an invasion of Waxwings from Scandinavia and Russia.
I caught twelve that were feeding on rowan berries on the tree by the village hall entrance. Since ringing them, three have been caught again – curiously all three were not just from the same batch which we ringed on the 17th November 2012, but were also on consecutive ring numbers from that batch.” Keith Brockie
And finally, as the countdown to Christmas continues apace, the FVA Committee would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas, and good health and happiness in 2014.
Re: Long Distance Flyers (In Fearnan)
I was interested to read about the visiting Siskins. Four years ago flocks of those friendly little birds descended on my feeder here in Western Canada. They are remarkably tame and eagerly fed from my hand.
Unfortunately I soon discovered the breed seems particularly susceptible to Salmonella and despite frequently bleaching and scrubbing the feeders I finally had to take them down. Too many birds were dying. I do miss them though.
I now content myself watching the antics of our local hummingbirds. Charming little guys and amazingly territorial. I have one male who sits guarding “his” feeder all day long, turning his head feathers a flaming red when another dares approach.
I look forward to the Fearnan newsletter. Many thanks, and a very Merry Christmas to all.