About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Is There a Way to Attract More Goldfinches to My Yard?

What feeders or flowers do goldfinches like? Can I put up a bird house for them? Patricia~ East Lansing, MI

Attracting more goldfinches is a lovely plan. Goldfinches are bright, cheery songbirds that the great state of Michigan is lucky enough to have year round!
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Feeders
Feeders are the easiest way to attract the American Goldfinch. We sell a variety of finch feeders. My favorites are the Mesh Finch Feeders. They not only let the finches land and feed in whatever position they choose, but they also allow air circulation to keep your Nyjer Thistle as dry and fresh as possible; something that's very important to these picky eaters. (Nyjer thistle is the common name used to identify a tiny black birdseed cultivated in Asia and Africa but is not related to the purple, prickly, Canada Thistle weed.)

Seed
Goldfinches eat a variety of seeds. Sunflower and Nyjer thistle are two of their favorites, but it has to be fresh. One way to check your seed is to pinch it with your fingernails and see if any oil comes out. The finches use their bills to twist the seed and sip the oil and then drop the shell. If your seed has dried out, your feeder will be skipped. (Wild Birds Unlimited receives a fresh load of seed each week).

Gardening Trick for Goldfinches
Habitat can be a key to attracting Goldfinches. In this case you do less work, not more. Don't worry about dandelions and don't cut off the tops of your Marigold, Zinnias, Cosmos, or Coneflowers...Goldfinches love them. The birds make the flowers dance as they flit from flower to flower looking for seed heads.

Nesting
The American Goldfinch begins its breeding season in late July. They don’t use bird houses but you can provide nesting material like cotton or pet hair. The female alone builds a bark, weeds, vines, and grass nest held together with spiderwebs 30 feet up in a deciduous tree. Finally she lines the nest with soft cottons, hair, milkweed, thistle, or cattail fluff.

Then it's my favorite time of year. At the end of August, after a couple weeks of incubating and a couple weeks in the nest, the goldfinch babies visit the feeder with their fathers. Their high squeaky baby calls are so adorable, but also a little sad because it marks the end of nesting season.