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.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How to get finches to switch feeders

@birdsunlimited hung up new nice finch feeder, how do I attract them to it? They figured out sack feeder, haven't touched this one yet.

It may be a matter of hours before birds learn how to use new feeders or a matter of weeks. Finches can be very particular. When I switched from a thistle sock to a mesh feeder the finches had no problem with the change. However when I added a finch tube, it was avoided until I took down all other finch feeders. Even then I still had to be patient and wait for them get over their upset over a feeder change.

To make them feel more comfortable I place the feeders in or near trees. I have several feeders hanging from a dogwood and pear tree in the front of the house. They like to check out the view from the top of the trees and then filter down to the lower branches until they feel safe enough to approach the feeders.

And their seed has to be fresh and the feeder clean. To make sure your Nyjer seed is fresh scatter some seed on white paper and crush it with your fingernails. If you see if any oil stains on the paper the seed is good. The finches use their bills to twist the seed and sip the oil and then drop the shell. On these days where they need a lot of energy to change feather colors, if your seed has dried out your feeder will be skipped. (Wild Birds Unlimited receives a fresh load of seed each week.)

If they haven’t touched your feeder in a while make sure there is no mold in the bottom of your feeder. In Michigan where it can be wet in the spring the seed may not get a chance to air out and begin to mold. This can be dangerous to the finches and they will avoid your feeder again. To prevent mold in bad weather use Feeder Fresh (a silica grit that absorbs water and humidity, is safe for birds, and made from non-toxic absorbent sand). You can also shelter your feeder from the elements by using a WBU Weather Guard.

But overall I think you just have to be patient. Goldfinches do things in their own way, for their own reasons. Just keep trying. Change the seed or move locations to see if they will come back.

Related articles:
- What is Nyger Thistle? http://t.co/Gg2AxQg
- Where are my finches? http://t.co/FRqa7eo
- Goldfinch colors: Why aren't all the goldfinches yellow? http://t.co/c57skHi
- Is There a Way to Attract More Goldfinches to My Yard? http://t.co/RB1cqWf

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