So good that the ornithologists named it twice! Bullfinch is possibly the most iconic St Nicks bird. Seen throughout the year, this colourful finch is easily identified by call, in flight and perched.
Their call is a quiet, but distinctive single note: listen to it here..Their song is seldom heard.
In flight, both male and female show a distinctive white mark near the base of the tail. Often, this is all that is needed to identify the bird.
When perched, these birds are easily identified. Both male and female have a clear black cap on their head and a black face. The male has a striking orange throat and breast, with a grey back and prominent white and black wing bars. The female, although lacking the orange down the breast, has the same wing bars and head markings.
Juveniles, seen at St Nicks from April / May onwards, look like the female, but lack the black head and face markings. Although they have the same white rump, the white wing bar is replaced with a buffy colour.
At St Nicks we have at least six breeding pairs – possibly as many as ten. They are sociable birds, and often two or three pairs are seen together, feeding off buds and seeds. In some parts of the country, they are considered as pests, often stripping buds in apple orchards, to the detriment of the crops. At St Nicks, we are tolerant towards them!
In 2011, St Nicks contributed to a tiny bit of ornithological history. A photo of a juvenile Bullfinch was the only record of breeding Bullfinches in the 10 km square in which St Nicks is located during the British Trust for Ornithology’s huge 4-year Atlas survey. It might only have been a single red dot on a huge map, but at least we made our mark!