Ramblings on Bramblings!

This blog post originally appeared on Peter's 'Fresh from the Field' blog on 10th December 2015.

I think it going to be a good winter for spotting Bramblings, maybe even in your back garden!

Last year, we had an enormous Beech tree mast supply in the UK – “mast” being the name of the Beech tree’s seed. Bramblings simply love this seed and large flocks will spend the winter foraging around under Beech trees, so accordingly they don’t really need to rely on out garden bird table hand-outs. I only occasionally saw a lone male visiting my garden last winter.

However, this year the Beech mast harvest has been quite small and already I have at least 6 Brambling visiting my garden on a daily basis. So, what exactly does this bird look like, because to be honest, it could easily be over-looked and noted down as a common old Chaffinch!

Brambling are similar in size and shape to the chaffinch, and they team up in the winter months with their close cousins, feeding together as a mixed flock. The noticeable difference is that the male has a dark head and appears to look like a rather “orangey” Chaffinch. The other clue to look out for is when they fly up and away from you, as they have a bright, really strikingly obvious white rump patch, so keep a good look out for this.

Bramblings are winter visitors to this country, as they breed in Scandinavia and Western Siberia. They come to our shores to escape the harsh continental winter, and turn up in particularly big numbers here, when snow and lack of food forces them to venture across the North Sea.

They particularly like to feed on the ground, but will also perch on feeders to eat various small seeds. They love sunflower seeds – in or out of their husks!! So I chuck some mixed corn and a few sunflower seeds onto the ground each morning and they fly down and are pecking around before I am even back in the house! 

To help you know what you are looking out for, I have put up a picture of both the Chaffinch and Brambling – so keep an eye open for them and do let me know if you a lucky enough to get a visit from this great little finch in your garden.

OrangymaleThe "orangey" male Brambling

PinkymaleThe much more "pinky" male Chaffinch

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Brambling pair arrived Bamburgh

at 8:08 on 22/10/2016 by Susie Dodds Glororum Farmhouse, Bamburgh

A pair of Bramblings arrived in our garden yesterday. We have beech trees and I had just put out sunflower seeds. Beautiful colouring on the male. Do you monitor Brambling sightings?


at 17:53 on 15/12/2015 by Mike Lock

More than usual in Devon already this winter. We have had one under the feeders - only the second in ten years - and there are reports from at least two other places in East Devon, some of them feeding in game cover crops!

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