Blawhorn Moss NNR
Tucked away in the woods around Blawhorn is a bird often described as quiet and unobtrusive even thought it is one of the most striking and attractive birds in the country. The bullfinch goes under the radar despite the males wearing a vivid pinky, orangey, reddish, black and slate grey outfit with a bright white rump. The female is just as chic but with a more subtle, muted plumage. But they are not birds for sitting on the top of bushes yelling their heads off and flouncing around. Instead they are shy and quiet, like a forgotten Hollywood star, striking but reclusive. They spend most of their time in thick, scrubby woods but once you tune into their mournful, soft, creaky call and song you can know they are there even if you don’t see them.
Beautiful, quiet and retiring, they are also dedicated to each other with pairs usual mating for life. The advantage of this strategy is that with pairs always together they don’t have to go through time consuming, energy hungry displaying and mate finding in spring but can just get straight into nesting and raising young. This means that in good years bullfinches can raise 2 or even 3 broods.
Before the trees come out into leaf they can be a bit more obvious as they tuck into their favourite food – tree buds. It can make them unpopular when they eat the buds off fruit trees but they rarely take enough to badly affect a fruit crop. When they have nestlings to feed the adults fill a pouch they have under their lower jaw with seeds, buds and invertebrates and then regurgitate this to the chicks. This is a more efficient way of gathering food, more gathering, less time on journeys but it means that the chicks get fed less frequently but when they do get fed they get loads.
They aren’t great travelers, the birds you see around Blawhorn are local birds born and bred but they don’t have set individual territories but feed and breed around the woods of a set area. So if walking in the woods around Blawhorn keep your bullfinch radar on as you might just catch a sight of the reclusive star.