Bullfinches are regular visitors to the park. Despite the male’s glorious colouring, they are quiet, retiring types, rarely seen; this picture was taken early one Saturday morning when the park was pretty much empty of visitors.
We hope bullfinches nest here; our open mixed woodland, ancient hawthorn hedges and blackthorn thicket are exactly the sort of territory they choose if they can find it.
They are generalist feeders; they eat insects, berries, seeds and flower buds. Bullfinches were once considered a pest by fruit farmers; they ate the flower buds in the spring and returned for the fruit in the autumn. For centuries parishes paid a bounty of a penny on the head of each bullfinch killed.
They pair up in the spring and the female lays up to seven eggs in a loosely built nest of twigs, moss and lichen, lined with a layer of fine roots The female builds the nest alone, up high in thick cover, and incubates the eggs but the male shares the task of feeding the nestlings.
Below are pictures, taken in the summer of 2019 by DKG, of a bullfinch feeding in the park on dock seeds.
The British Trust for Ornithology says:
” Bullfinch is currently listed as an ‘amber’ species of conservation concern because of its recent breeding population decline. Bullfinch numbers declined steeply during 1977–82 especially in farmland. The decline eased during the mid 1980s and has upturned since 2000. However, the UK numbers are currently 36% lower than in 1967. ”