Harsh Winter Drives Birds South



Siskin (Carduelis spinus)

The first half of February this year was unusually cold in northern Europe. Temperatures down to minus 20 degrees Celsius forced many bird species to move southwards. This year I noticed a large influx of both Bramblings and Siskins into our tiny alpine village.

The Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus) has an unusual migration pattern as every few years in winter they migrate southwards in large numbers.

The reasons for this behavior are not known but may be related to climatic factors and above all the availability of food. In this way overwintering populations can thrive where food is abundant.

Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)

The Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) is almost entirely migratory. In Europe, it forms large flocks in the winter, sometimes with thousands or even millions of birds in a single flock.

Both the Siskins and Bramblings competed actively around the garden feeders with those species which remain resident throughout the year.

These species include Chaffinches, Greenfinches, House Sparrows, Blackbirds, Great Tits, Bluetits, Crested Tits, Coal Tits, Blackbirds and Robins.

Male Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus)

Female Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus)

Great Tit (Parus major)

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

Ken Billington

Ken Billington

Ken, a scientist by training held various management positions in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries during his professional career, enabling him to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Americas, North Africa, Asia and Japan. Ken has always been a keen photographer and bought his first telephoto lens 10 years ago. This was the beginning of his interest in bird photography. Since then he has also become an active supporter of birding and wildlife conservation.

Ken Billington

Ken Billington

Ken, a scientist by training held various management positions in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries during his professional career, enabling him to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Americas, North Africa, Asia and Japan. Ken has always been a keen photographer and bought his first telephoto lens 10 years ago. This was the beginning of his interest in bird photography. Since then he has also become an active supporter of birding and wildlife conservation.

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