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, July 19, 2016

There are no birdhouses for yellow finches

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

American Goldfinches are one of the loveliest songbirds to have gracing our yards. They are bright yellow and black birds, with a cheery song, and a wavy roller-coaster flight pattern that the great state of Michigan is lucky enough to have year round!  They roam from garden to garden making the flowers dance as they eat seed heads until late summer when they choose a territory where they will nest.
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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 but it does not sprout and 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 crush it with a spoon on white paper to 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). Sunflower seed can offered in the shell or out of the shell like it is in the WBU No-mess Blend.

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 Marigolds, Zinnias, Cosmos, Brown eyed Susans 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. By mid-August, after a couple weeks of incubating and a couple weeks in the nest, the first wave of baby goldfinches 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.
 
Related Articles:
Prevent soggy seed in your bird feeder http://goo.gl/kfTpi
Nyjer (thistle) isn't related to Canada Thistle http://bit.ly/Nt8Xxu
Bird of the week: American Goldfinch http://bit.ly/PZum2a
How to Attract Goldfinches http://bit.ly/A6CwjB
How often do you clean a bird feeder? http://bit.ly/wTk0c7 
Where do you place finch feeders? http://goo.gl/avIs2

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