Twite

Latin name: Carduelis flavirostris

Family: Fringillidae

The twite is a small brown bird which can be found on moorland fringe habitats. Within the Yorkshire Dales, it nests on heather moorlands but will feed in a variety of grassland habitats; often up to 2.5km from the moorland edge. This is due to its need for a variety of different seeds for food throughout the breeding season.

The twite population can be difficult to monitor accurately and although just over 50 pairs were located during the Moorland Bird Survey in the early 1990s, this was believed to be a considerable underestimate of the true population.

At risk?

In recent years there has been a decrease in the number of twite records in the Yorkshire Dales indicating that local populations have declined in line with national trends. This drop is thought to be due to a reduction in the number of second broods that are raised each year. This may be caused by a change in grassland feeding habitats due to a shortage of seed plants in July. However, a few birds can still be found at some of the former breeding sites in the Yorkshire Dales, suggesting that a small breeding population still exists.

The RSPB has allocated a Red conservation status to the twite. In the national Species and Habitats Review 2007, twite was added to the UK list of priority species for biodiversity action. It is a priority species in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

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There is a freshness and at times a undefineable fragrance to the air at high altitude in the Pennines. Joan E. Duncan & R.W.Robson

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