Greenfinch – 2021 breeding – can you help?

Chloris chlorisLlinos WerddBreeding resident and passage migrant

The 1984-88 map of greenfinches breeding in Pembrokeshire showed that greenfinches occupied 55% of tetrads in the county.  The 2003-07 map indicated an increase to 78% of tetrads.  Since then, the story is all downhill, as shown here by the results of the Breeding Bird Survey.

The increase between the two atlases may have been fuelled by the increase in feeding birds in gardens leading to better winter survival.  However, that same phenomenon may have led to the subsequent decrease as a parasite called Trichomonas gallinae transferred from pigeons, birds of prey, and domestic chickens and turkeys to smaller birds such as finches.   The resulting disease, Trichomonosis, spreads rapidly via food and water contaminated by infected individuals – so garden feeders, water for drinking and bathing, anywhere that birds congregate is a potential problem.

Greenfinches are still widespread in Pembrokeshire, but are thin on the ground.  Breeding records seem particularly scarce.  The map above shows where greenfinches have been recorded in April-July 2011-2020 according to records in BirdTrack.  The black squares indicate that the observer recorded definite evidence of breeding  – nests, birds carrying food, recently fledged youngsters (being fed), for example. 

The easiest way to do this, is for everyone to note where they see greenfinches in April, May, June and July, and add those records to BirdTrack.  In BirdTrack you can pinpoint a location on a map or aerial photo. Then when entering details, click on the ‘highest breeding evidence’ box and select the appropriate code. Many thanks to the observers who are already collecting this information.

Greenfinches usually produce a second brood, so there is plenty of ‘season’ left for finding them.  

If you really don’t want to use BirdTrack, then there is the WWBIC recording scheme either on-line or via their app (part of iRecord) where you’ll have to state in the comments field what you have seen. If all else fails, you can email me, but remember to include the site name, the site grid reference, and the breeding code.

The map will be updated in early July, though records not submitted through BirdTrack may take longer to incorporate so there will be another update later in the year.

More about the Greenfinch in Pembrokeshire

Greenfinch – 2003-07 breeding

Chloris chlorisLlinos WerddBreeding resident and passage migrant

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed7069
Breeding probable134286
Breeding possible5728
No of tetrads occupied261 (of 478)383 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads54.6%78.2%

Due to changes in agricultural practices, the greenfinch is becoming less common in farmland. Parks and gardens with tall trees are now the preferred habitat for breeding, especially if evergreen trees are present. The prevalence of such trees in towns and villages may be encouraging the birds to move there.

It was estimated that 4–5,000 pairs were nesting in the county during the 1984-88 survey. The distribution found during the 2003-07 survey shows an increase of 47% in the number of squares recorded, with an in–filling within the existing widespread range rather than any expansion. The 1984-88 survey estimated the density at 15 – 20 pairs per tetrad, if that estimate is still true then the increase in occupied squares would indicate an increase in the breeding population to c. 6–7,500 pairs. The BBS assessment of a 27% increase in the population between 1994 and 2002 would broadly agree with this.

A cautionary note should be added at this time, in some gardens birds are suffering from an infectious disease which can be fatal. How this may affect future breeding populations we will have to see.

Richard Dobbins

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports, which may contain more detail than shown here.

More about the Greenfinch in Pembrokeshire

Greenfinch – 1994

Carduelis chlorisLlinos WerddBreeding resident and passage migrant

1984-88
Breeding confirmed70
Breeding probable134
Breeding possible57
No of tetrads occupied261 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads54.6%

A common resident/according to Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949), the Greenfinch currently breeds across Pembrokeshire (see map) being found especially around gardens and where there are scattered trees. At an estimated 15 to 20 pairs per tetrad the county total would be 4,000-5,000 pairs.

Small numbers are recorded passing through coastal areas between 7 March and 12 June, and again from 27 September to 6 December. They stop off at the islands, including the remoter isles such as the Smalls, and one ringed at Skokholm was later recovered in County Wexford, Ireland.

They flock in winter at good food sources, such as seeded turnips and flax, are increasingly frequent at bird-tables and form communal roosts in dense shrubbery, for instance in blackthorn at the Gann.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

More about the Greenfinch in Pembrokeshire

Greenfinch – 1980s winter

Carduelis chloris Llinos WerddBreeding resident and passage migrant

The BTO winter atlas showed that Greenfinches were present in most 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84.

The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square.  The darkest blue represents over — birds.

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

More about the Greenfinch in Pembrokeshire

Greenfinch – 1894

Ligurinus chloris – A common resident.

Only too numerous in our grounds, where in the old ivy-covered walls there were always plenty of nests. We were no admirers of this bright-plumaged bird, because of his ceaseless attacks upon our garden seeds in the spring. All had to be netted over, or nothing would have escaped him. One pair of Greenfinches had the audacity to build their nest immediately above our seed bed, but they did not meet with the success they had, doubtless, anticipated.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Greenfinch in Pembrokeshire

Greenfinch

Carduelis chlorisLlinos WerddBreeding resident and passage migrant

Greenfinch – 2003-07 breeding

Chloris chloris – Llinos Werdd – Breeding resident and passage migrant Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed 70 69 Breeding probable 134 286 Breeding possible 57 28 No of tetrads occupied 261 (of 478) 383 (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 54.6% 78.2% Due to changes in agricultural practices, the greenfinch is becoming less […]

Greenfinch – 1994

Carduelis chloris – Llinos Werdd – Breeding resident and passage migrant 1984-88 Breeding confirmed 70 Breeding probable 134 Breeding possible 57 No of tetrads occupied 261 (of 478) Percentage of tetrads 54.6% A common resident/according to Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949), the Greenfinch currently breeds across Pembrokeshire (see map) being found especially around […]

Greenfinch – 1980s winter

Carduelis chloris – Llinos Werdd – Breeding resident and passage migrant The BTO winter atlas showed that Greenfinches were present in most 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84. The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square.  The darkest blue represents over — birds. More about the Greenfinch […]

Greenfinch – 1949

Species account from the Birds of Pembrokeshire, 1949, by Lockley, Ingram and Salmon.

Greenfinch – 1894

Species account from the 1894 ‘Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands’ by Rev M A Mathew