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Last Updated: Monday March 06 2006 15:14 GMT

Goldfinches return to UK gardens

A goldfinch [Jill Pakenham/BTO Images]
A small brightly coloured bird called the goldfinch is making a comeback in Britain, thanks to birdwatchers feeding them special high-energy seeds.

Numbers of the songbird dropped 30 years ago, but a survey by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) shows the songbird is returning to UK gardens.

Over 17,000 people took part in the study which found the birds visiting more garden feeding stations.

This was a big increase on the last time researchers looked at the numbers.

The BTO say they think the increase in numbers is because bird-lovers are putting sunflower seeds and other high-energy seed mixes out for the goldfinches to feed on.

Caged bird threat

Blue tit
This helps them survive harsh winters when there is not much food about.

There are now thought to be 300,000 breeding pairs of the songbirds.

Goldfinches started dropping in numbers 200 years ago, when it became popular to keep them in cages as pets.

New farming methods added to the problem, as fewer seeds became available for the birds to snack on during winter months.

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