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BIRDWATCHERS: Parasite blamed for greenfinch's decline

Friday 30th April 2021

GARDEN birdwatchers are searching for answers as to why local populations of the greenfinch appear to be in sharp decline.

Once a common feature squabbling at the feeders, the distinctive bird is now becoming a rarity in some part of the borough in all its favourite habitats.

Downs Mail readers seem to agree the greenfinch is no longer as plentiful as it once was.

Holly Preston, of Loose, said: "We get most of the finches in here, including the odd siskin, but I haven't seen a greenfinch in a few years, yet they were once so common.

"It wasn't unusual to see half a dozen in around the bird feeders. Then, about three years ago, I saw one once and that was the last time."

Holly, 41, said she checked with the conservation charity, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), and was surprised to learn that the species has a 'green' status, the highest rating of population health.

She added: "We get the odd linnet in the garden sometimes and that's meant to be in real trouble."

Monica and Dave Wratten, keen garden bird-watchers of Leeds, said: "We haven't seen a greenfinch in a couple of years. They used to be quite common - but not anymore."

The RSPB does note there was a major decline in greenfinch numbers in the 1970s and 1980s but staged a massive revival in the 1990s.

There is an estimated population of 1.7m pairs in the British Isles.

The RSPB says: "Greenfinch populations declined during the late 1970s and early 1980s, but increased dramatically during the 1990s.

“A recent decline in numbers has been linked to an outbreak of trichomonosis, a parasite-induced disease which prevents the birds from feeding properly."

Some birdwatchers advise householders to provide a good supply of black sunflower seeds as a way to attract greenfinches to the feeders.

Have you seen greenfinches in your garden? Drop us a line at with the details.