Thursday, 16 January 2014

Goldfinches feeding on ash keys




I had never seen any Ash seed predators, until today I spied a charm of Goldfinches atop a weeping ash tree in the park. The Goldfinches were sitting on bunches of keys chomping away at them. I was so surprised I checked sure they were eating the seeds and not the buds or just loitering on the tree. But, yes, they were manipulating the seeds with their bill (bottom photo). I could only find a photo of goldfinches feeding on ash keys (here). The coat of the ash seeds seems quite tough and leathery so that shows how versatile goldfinch bills are, not only extracting tiny seeds like teasel, birch or alder from their pods, but also dealing with these.


UPDATE 18/01/2014
I watched another flock in a different Ash tree today. I photographed an individual using its foot to hold the whole seed while it pecked it with its bill. Photos follow.




6 comments:

  1. Amazed that the goldfinch can get the seed out of the key by using only its beak. A tit would have held it firmly down on a twig with both feet and pecked a hole in it, as I have seen a Great Tit do with a sycamore seed.

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  2. Finches have amazing dexterity with their bills. I reared a greenfinch when I was a kid and I was always fascinated watching them manipulate seeds with their bills and tongues

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  3. I never knew that they would do that, aren't they amazing little things?

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  4. I have updated the post now, as I went to see them yesterday and watched them actually holding the whole seed with their feet against the branch - like a tit!. So cool to watch!

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    1. Here is a comparable picture of a Great Tit at work on a sycamore seed. Their feet are very strong, as anyone who feeds them on their hand will know. It is like being gripped by a little Mole wrench.

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    2. That's a brilliant shot! Thank you for linking to it. I've never have the pleasure to feed them on my hand though, but can imagine!

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