The garden has been teeming with birds this Christmas. Some very rare visitors that we don’t see every year. Keeping them fed has been one of the Christmas chores and a happy one.
Three Bohemian Waxwings have decorated the garden with their stay. Their beautiful colours are hard to match.
Redpolls stay with us most of the year and in winter they are never far away. There have been at least 20 – 25 every day.
Fieldfares very seldom grant us the favour of a visit at Christmas. Now we have had four of them most days. They are quite dominating and find it hard to share food with the others.
The Crossbills are peaceful birds and their lovely colours make them stand out now when everything is covered in snow. Five of them have come here to feed daily and mingle with the other visitors.
Now Rock Doves are becoming more and more common here in the garden and they make good use of the sunflower seeds that we put out. They are here in the dozens and we are sad to admit that we sometimes wish they would go somewhere else once in a while.
Other birds in the garden are Redwings, Blackbirds, Snow Buntings, Starlings and one very Christmassy Robin.
The Redpoll is a very common bird in woodlands in Iceland. It is the only original Icelandic woodland bird. Its main diet is insects and Birch seed. In the last decades it has gradually learnt to feed on seeds from other tree species in our fast growing forests.
This autumn the Birch has failed to produce seeds here in the South for the second year in a row. This is also the case with seed production in Spruce trees this year.
Despite this there are a lot of Redpolls in search of feed in Hellisskógur by Selfoss. Their main feed this autumn seems to be seed from the Sitka alder (Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata) and from the plant Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria). Both of these are common in Hellisskógur and form seeds every year.
If there is shortage of feed for the Redpolls they are not shy to come into gardens and eagerly take to seed set out for them. If things are rough part of the stock might leave the country for southerly parts of Europe.
Although the Redpolls frequent our feeding trays, they are also diligent in nibbling on seeds from the Sitka Alder and Green Alder. Redpolls eat Birch seeds and all kinds of flower seeds, and insects in the summer time. However, after a cold and wet summer the availability of Birch seeds is scarce.
Recently flocks of Redpolls have been seen feeding on seeds in Alder trees in the South of Iceland.
This little guy is easily recognisable from others of its kind because it sports a white crown instead of the usual greyish brown forehead. This Redpoll was here in the garden two days in November and appeared here one day last week. We have not noticed this colour variation before among the thousands of Redpolls that have visited the garden in recent years.
July and August are usually the most peaceful months in the garden, meaning that there are not as many birds as in the winter months. We have continued putting out sunflower seed all summer so of course some birds come by regularly. Redwings, Blackbirds and Redpolls nested in our garden and in neighbouring gardens this summer. Most of these birds finished breeding in the end June except the Blackbird that breeds several times during the summer. According to our observations it is now breeding for the fifth time.
With the coming of autumn more and more birds appear in the garden and last week there were three Wrens here (ad+2 juv), a Goldcrest, Crossbills, Redpolls, Blackbirds, Redwings and Starlings.
Common Crossbills flock to our garden, both young and old. They have must have got news about the feed that the nice man in Fagurgerði puts out all year round now. Fagurgerði is actually the old name of our house and later when more houses were built it became the name of the street.
Several adults, both male and female, with chicks visit the feeders and there is a lot of coming and going. They seem such peaceful birds and share the sunflower seeds in blissful harmony with the Redpolls.
In the last ten days there have been up to 18 Crossbills at a time. First there were 3 – 4, a dad with 3 chicks and then their numbers grew as news spread of the full feeders here.
Redpolls are the most common birds in our garden this winter. There are about one hundred of them that come here every day. They eat the sunflower seeds that we put out for them and the big old trees probably also play a part in the popularity of the garden.
I keep count of the birds that come here all year round. For information see my Weekly Bird Report.
I never tire of photographing these quick and adorable birds. The Icelandic winter with its endless twilight poses a challenge for me to constantly try to get better photos that are sharp and clear.
After a few years decline the Redpoll population seems to have grown considerably. The summer was extra warm and huge flocks are now seen in gardens and forests. Today there were 80 of them here in the garden.
They are feeding on sunflower seeds that we put out for them. Sunflower seed attracts a wide variety of birds into gardens. It is interesting to study the Redpolls different colour variations, no two are the same.
Redpolls are among the first birds to lay eggs in the spring and now the chicks have already started hatching. On my walk today I came across this nest in a spruce tree. Two chicks were in it but three were already out of it sitting on nearby branches, chirping incessantly for food. The parents must be very busy finding food for all these little mouths.
Again Redpolls have appeared in flocks in Selfoss hunting for food. In the last few days up to 40 have been in our garden. These chirpy and beautiful birds are welcome guests. Few of them were seen here before Christmas and birders and garden owners missed them and speculated as to their whereabouts. Some even maintained that the stock had declined or that Redpolls had fled the country. The truth is that enough seed was to be had in birch forests after a favourable summer. So there was no need for them to leave the forest in search of feed in urban areas. However, here they are again to the joy of probably everyone.
The photos are from this weekend in our garden in Selfoss.