As winter continues, there are two small finches that are able to find seed because of the shape of their beaks. The Siskin and (Lesser) Redpoll have very narrow bills unlike some other finches. The seeds of the Alder Tree are packed into a compact seed -head making it difficult for birds to reach them but these two birds can prise it open using their narrow bills. Both birds are slightly smaller than a House Sparrow.
The Siskin has a forked tail and the male’s body is yellow and green whereas the female looks paler. Alders grow close to water.
The Redpoll also has a forked tail and is just a little smaller than the Siskin. This bird has a streaky, brown body, red forehead and a tiny black bib.
Once the Alder seed has fallen, these birds look for winter food elsewhere and can turn up in gardens. They eat peanuts and often hang upside down to reach the food.
So far, the numbers of winter thrushes in the Baildon area is small probably because of the poor harvest of berries but we may see more Fieldfare and Redwing once the berries elsewhere are exhausted. The birds are then forced to ground feed for worms and start to flock.
If you have any berries in your garden, keep a watch for Waxwings, as they are have come down from Scandinavia in large numbers and have been seen in our area. They are smaller than a Starling, reddish brown with a grey rump, small black mask, yellow and white pattern in the wings and a yellow tipped tail. The tips on some of the flight feathers look like bright red wax. They are a beautiful bird!