What do ya do when you can’t accommodate all your yellow feathered friends? Several options to feed lots of goldfinches at once might include adding a new finch feeder and/or hanging a few inexpensive thistle socks.
Because of their late nesting season, goldfinches abound in late summer/early fall, but they’re molting process begins with dull, olive-drab winter feathers appearing. Should other finches who enjoy thistle (or nyjer) seed be hogging feeders, there’s a cool upside-down model designed just for the goldfinch.
Some of these other birds at finch feeders might include redpolls, pine siskins, house finches and more, so competition can get thick, and the sweet yellow ones really don’t compete much at feeders.
An economical way to give everyone a fair share is with thistle socks. The hanging mesh thistle feeders typically come in white, yellow or black , with some red ones fancied up for holiday. So popular nowadays, you may even see them in your grocery store’s bird section!
Two other great things about feeding finches thistle seed is that it won’t germinate to cause weeds, and squirrels usually leave these feeders in peace!
For the next 12 days (or there about) we’re offering some fab gift ideas for bird lovers & gardeners on your list! Each icon representative of the Twelve Days of Christmas – so we’re posting the true meaning of the words themselves at the end of each post. Since the popular carol features 6 days of birds… we deemed it most appropriate for the season!
Recently we noticed decreased activity at our finch feeders, so much so… it seems the goldfinches have disappeared? Being resident birds in the southeast, there have been periods of up & down activity, but no birds are to be found at present. The nyjer seed is fresh, cleaner emptied and scrubbed two weeks ago, and feeders with finch mix are good too.
Although other birds partake in finch mixes; cardinals & sparrows (the good ones) – it is from past experience we know the usual suspects will again return! Because of this, finch feeders are a swell idea for any bird lover or gardening addict.
The tiny black seed won’t germinate, and goldfinches are one the sweetest songbirds to grace the yard. The Rainbow Finch Feeder shown here is an awesomely inexpensive and impressive feeder! It boasts 18 perches which offer a delightful view when occupied at once. It comes in two sizes (regular and super) to accommodate big crowds, and it’s available for immediate shipping via USPS Priority Mail, usually 3 days to anywhere in the country.
One down… 11 more easy & fun gift ideas to come!
Oh yeah, the partridge: symbolizes Jesus.
Back oil sunflower seed is likely the most versatile of all birdseed. We prefer using the meats or hearts as they leave less ground waste and more species are apt to chow down! Even in finch feeders, using a mix that contains sunflower hearts will bring more color and more birds to the feeder.
During cold weather, a wide variety of feathered friends will absolutely find chopped sunflower a tasty treat! Cardinals, who’d rather not perch on narrow trays, chickadees, warblers, bluebirds, Carolina wrens and the other usual suspects will go for the high fat, high protein seed.
When chopped and mixed with thistle (a popular store-bought mix) it provides a hearty meal for many! Finch feeders with trays accommodate more birds than those with perches alone too. Because thistle won’t germinate and the sunflower is void of shells… it’s a really clean seed mix with almost zero waste. Sure, thistle hulls will accumulate, but no weeds will sprout! Just scoop it up with a small garden shovel every few weeks.
We promise, just because a feeder is called by a certain name or kind- doesn’t mean that’s all it does. Finch feeders need not only offer thistle for finches! And by the way, you can fashion a great jelly feeder for orioles using a small hanging candle holder, suet feeders rock for offering nesting materials… get the picture?
Think finch, and the first thing that usually comes to mind is a vibrant yellow American goldfinch, and because of their late breeding season, they’re out in full force this time of year. In fact, with their second molt, those bright feathers are giving way to new but drab winter plumage… so don’t think they’ve left! Finches are resident birds throughout most of the US. So keep on feeding them 🙂
The other finch is purple by name, but their plumage is really more red. You’re apt to see another red bird at finch feeders if you offer a premium seed mix. Cardinals adore their sunflower seed, and a better quality finch mix will have more of it.
Like anything else, there’s okay, better and best, this absolutely applies to birdseed too! Best will cost more, but it offers higher nutritional value and less waste in return. One of the reasons folks quit feeding birds is the ground mess (and who it attracts), so by using a mix with no fillers-which is what ends up on the ground anyway, you’ll not only attract more of the desired birds, you’ll have considerably less mess below feeders.
Try stocking your finch feeder with a mix of premium nyjer seed and sunflower chips. It’s got a high fat content, (great for winter) and there’s no corn, no milo, no millet that’s found in less expensive birdseed. No, we don’t sell it, but yes we use it, purchased from our local WBU… but don’t tell anyone!
Although cardinals do prefer larger, secure spaces while feeding, they’ll definitely perch at finch feeder with tray, or even hop on a perch itself. The new-fangled spiral feeders offer a bit of both! Birds run the spiral instead of feeding from individual perches, and they have optional seed trays too.
So don’t forget your finches once they’ve turned brown! Keep feeders fresh and consider a heated bath to help them through winter!
It may be officially summer, but the tail end of spring nesting season is still going strong. Goldfinches are just starting to nest now, which means you’ll be seeing a whole lot of yellow at thistle feeders in the next 2-3 months.
If you’re not offering thistle yet, you may be missing out! The American Goldfinch is a favored backyard songbird as their summer plumage, friendly disposition and sweet song are simply a pleasure to have around the garden. And unlike other birdseed, thistle seed won’t germinate… which is also a pleasure in the garden 🙂
Goldfinches don’t use birdhouses, so there’s no luring them in with that. They’ll raise their broods in mature hedges or trees, constructing nests of woven plant fibers and down. You can encourage them with some nesting materials placed in the vicinity of thistle feeders. They’re partial to Hummer Helper, the hummingbird nesting material, feathers and other fibrous nest offerings.
Unlike some more aggressive birds, goldfinches are quite demure, they’d rather fly off than fight for a spot at the feeder. This where lots of perches, or an all-over feeding space to accommodate them are ideal. Thistle socks are another great choice for goldfinches’ busy time of year. You can easily offer several different feeding spots, without spending a whole lot! Parents will feed babies thistle seed almost exclusively at first, sometimes mixed with finely chopped sunflower bits, you’ll see finches consuming this seed mix too.
As always, fresh water is critical to any bird’s environment. Keeping your bird bath clean is important stuff, for them and for your yard – especially in warm summer weather. Keep water shallow (no more than two inches) and keep it fresh… and they will come!
Oh wait, once goldfinches molt again in September they’ll turn an olive-drab color… but don’t quit feeding them. If you offer thistle year-round, their electric yellow plumage will grace your yard every summer!
Me neither as they must be covered in snow and awaiting the big thaw. So this is April? Wisconsin, Minnesota, somewhere like that. Goldfinches are already shedding worn winter feathers and turning yellow, while other common resident birds are nesting in much of the country. Once again, will winter ever end?
Yesterday brought our first butterfly to the yard, but unfortunately the consecutive, way below normal night temperature this year zapped established lantana that was seven years old. You could always count on butterflies around those shrubs. Yes, that’s how big they were, mature shrubs.
Erratic weather is largely attributed to climate change, but many folks don’t see it that way. Mudslides, volcanoes, drought and rising sea levels to name a few effects are pretty apparent and scarily becoming the norm.
In the bluebird world, trail monitors found a record number of dead bluebirds in the KY area. A very late spring being the culprit after such a rough winter… there were simply no natural food sources available. Someone was inquiring about a feeder the other day and said “no rush, it’s for next year, we don’t really feed birds in summer”. We’ve come across many folks like that, but here’s the reality: weather directly affects food sources and bird’s survival rates.
Last summer through a wicked drought, we witnessed a male cardinal feeding a fledgeling from a platform feeder containing sunflower hearts. From ground to platform and back he flew feeding his offspring. It was a strange sight, as others were reported this winter too. Cardinals hanging on suet feeders, and ground-feeding juncos up at black oil feeders. Many of the migratory birds were in for a harsh surprise upon arrival into the gulf states. No flowers, no berries, no insects, simply an equation for starvation after a long journey like that.
Closer to home, resident birds braved a very tough season as well. Feeders were non-stop with activity for the most part. Although thistle feeders didn’t see too much traffic, other feeders containing finch mixes did… and a lot! Once the olive drab fliers began their molting process, straight nyjer became goldfinches’ food of choice and overnight, thistle was and is being devoured daily!
The good news is this seed has come down in price a little bit, and if you can manage the larger bags, like 20-to 40-pounders, you’ll save even more money this summer. Unlike other birds, goldfinches feed nestlings and fledgelings thistle-almost exclusively.
So if you’re not really a “summer feeder”, you may want to rethink maybe just one or two feeders this summer… the bird families sure will thank you!
Fresh water is known to entice more feathered friends than any single feeder or birdhouse. One of the critical elements for just about any life form, birds require fresh water, even in the harshest winter weather. Sure they can eat snow, but it takes work to convert the snow into water and uses precious calories needed to stay warm. That’s why heated baths and de-icers are so popular among dedicated backyard birders-especially this past winter, no… make that this persistent winter!
With the first bulbs forcing through, it means spring’s around the corner… even if there’s still snow on the ground in your neck of the woods! The calendar and number of hours of daylight are signaling birds it’s time for nesting, to claim a spot, settle down and raise their broods. Although American goldfinches and house finches don’t use natural cavities (or birdhouses) for nesting, you can absolutely attract these cool little fliers to your place with finch feeders and a fresh water source.
Goldfinches can be seen chowing down on straight nyjer or thistle seed (their preferred meal), as well as finch mixes containing finely chopped sunflower hearts and thistle. The latter being more likely to attract a wider variety of species. House and purple finches, cardinals, pine siskins, towhees and several types of sparrows are commonly seen visiting finch feeders.
The timid demeanor of the vibrant yellow goldfinch keeps them from competing at feeders among crowds. They’d actually prefer to just give up and fly off than to fight for a chance to eat. This not very characteristic of too many birds!
A great way to offer extra feeding space during the busy finch season (without buying several full-blown feeders) is to offer thistle socks. Convenient and inexpensive, these smaller mesh feeders provide several birds a good meal instead of a missed opportunity!
One of very few birds who molts twice per year, their electric yellow breeding plumage has started developing. When all other birds are just about through with nesting for the season, goldfinches are just getting started! Their busy season? Late June through July.
Though they might not be sporting that amazing yellow color, goldfinches are still around. Keep thistle and finch feeders out year-round for best results, to see more of these delightful feathered friends at your place!
Goldfinches are back in droves.. but they’re not quite so gold yet. Still sporting drab winter plumage, it’s not until late spring/early summer when they’ll molt again. It’s the process of shedding old worn feathers to make way for new ones, and goldfinches happen to be one of very few birds who molt twice per year.
If your nyjer feeder has been sitting for a while sans activity, the older seed may be moldy, and finches won’t eat it. Consider trashing that old seed, giving the feeder a good cleaning and refilling with fresh goods. Doing this provides a welcome sign for these cool little birds.
One of the larger capacity feeders is shown here – holding 5+ lbs. of seed. A relative of the Rainbow Finch Feeder, the Super version is even better for large finch crowds. With colorful perches and a great design, this nyjer feeder lets you fill from both the top and bottom. This eliminates stale seed piling up at the bottom. By alternating which end is filled with fresh seed, there’s never a build-up of old stuff.
There’s another bird out there now who might easily be confused with the goldfinch. About the same size, but very opposite behavior, warblers can be pretty territorial around bird feeders. Males will fight and fend off others, doing this sort of vertical flight dance where the birds look almost intertwined. Goldfinches on the other hand would rather find another feeder than fight. This is when an extra thistle sock or two come in very handy. Inexpensive and simple to use, they offer extra feeding spots during goldfinches’ busy breeding season. Oh and this warbler… he’s got a mouthful of suet and a big attitude too!
To roll out the welcome mat for finches and other songbirds, offer a consistent fresh water source and keep bird feeders clean. Adding some nesting materials in early spring will also encourage residency at your place!
Well yes actually! Because goldfinches are the birds with the latest nesting season, and because we saw this cool post over at 10,000 Birds, something on nyjer feeders seemed appropriate.
One of the sweetest little resident songbirds, they’ll stick around your place if a consistent food and water source is provided. Although they may not be as pretty in winter, their song remains the same.
The article we found interesting was on the Winter Finch Forecast and conveyed some great info on the why, when and where of several species of finches. Did you know crossbills and grosbeaks were part of the finch family? We didn’t!
For some great photos and worthy information, check out the article here
The only good thing about standing at the sink is catching the bird action on the deck! At present there’s five hummingbird feeders, two bird baths, and an open tray feeder… which squirrels usually hog. And flowers-gotta have plants and color to complete the scenery.
Hearing a rustling noise, and seeing movement in those flowers from the corner of my eye, it deserved a closer look. There were two goldfinches feeding and flitting amongst the zinnias. It was pretty cool and well worth a photo, so out on the deck I went with camera in hand. Well, the electric yellow birds didn’t make the shot… but my blue toes did 🙁
In fall, spent flowers like zinnia, coneflower, sunflower… and lots of others with seed heads provide a bounty of food for wild birds. They’re actually nature’s finch feeders. So next time you have the urge to dead-head those spent blooms… don’t! Leave them a while longer so they can do what nature intended… feed the birds.