North America houses a huge variety of finches, with their admirable beauty and vibrant profiles. In addition to being flock animals, finches also require a spacious living space.
That means that you must never house finches in vertical cages. Since parrots can potentially harm your yellow-feathered friends, you must never place finches with parrots, if you want them to thrive.
1. Add Bright Colored Ribbons to Your Backyard
Birds possess extreme sensitivity for colors, which means they are drawn to colors which nature does not commonly have. Thus adding bright-colored, such as yellow ribbons to the feeder helps immensely in attracting finches.
Ribbons are light and move with the winds. This movement assures the birds that their new feeder is a safe zone as another bird has already explored it and finds it secure.
Most birds, including orioles, find ribbons attractive, so you must strategically place them around poles, trees, and feeders that are in plain sight. With this little trick, you will be able to attract many finches.
2. Tempt with Fresh Black Seed
Brown, stale looking seeds do not attract finches, so one must always buy strong black colored seeds. The general preference of your yellow beauties is a combination of sunflower and Nyjer seeds, which are high in oil and easy to pick with small beaks.
If you are looking to attract finch friends all year round, we suggest offering a daily meal of the seeds duo we just mentioned. Since November to March is the least seed productive season for many food plants, it is more essential to stock up on this seed combination for your birds.
Finches are small and clingy, so you choose hulled sunflower chips and kernels, millet, and Nyjer. The best feeders are sock or mesh-style for the tiny creatures.
3. Encourage Nesting in Your Yard
Goldfinches prefer taller trees, shaded locations, and low, dense shrubs to nest in. They usually nest later than other species, when thistles, their favorites, begin to ripen.
The females use thistledown to line their nests and mate from June to August. Goldfinches prefer to nest in cup shapes, vertical structures, especially those with strong support. To this end, the elderberry, dogwood, hawthorn, and buttonbush plants and willow, fruit, and Monterey pine trees work best.
If you wish to raise goldfinch chicks, provide a secure and safe place for them. You may consider downy plants such as thistle and dandelions and provide natural cotton supplements for a more natural feeling nest. Also, leave the nesting material available and protected till summer.
Posted by Mike Girard
Finches can be finicky and are sometimes hesitant to visit bird feeders. These eight hints for how to attract finches will help you create a finch-friendly backyard bird feeding station they can’t resist!
1. Place Feeders Where Finches Feel Safe
A feeder out in the open can make finches feel vulnerable to predators. Placing the feeder near a shrub or tree will make the finches feel safe and can also encourage them to explore the new feeder. Once they have discovered it, you can move it far enough away from shrubs and trees so the squirrels can’t jump to it.
2. Temporarily Remove Other Feeders
Birds are creatures of habit, and sometimes it can take them days or even weeks to use a new feeder. There’s something new in the yard they aren’t used to, and they need to warm up to it first. Temporarily removing other feeders in the area encourages birds to forage outside of their usual routine and can help them find the new feeder. Oddly enough, filling a new feeder half-full seems to attract birds to the feeder.
3. Finches Feed on Fresh Black Seed
Make sure to buy seed that has a strong black color. Finches won’t feed on brown, old-looking seed. Nyjer® dries out quickly, so store your fresh Nyjer® in the freezer until you’re ready to use it. This helps preserve the seed, preventing it from drying out until it goes into your finch feeders. It’s a good idea to buy Nyjer® on an as-needed basis; purchase a seed quantity that the birds in your yard will consume within a month or so. If oil doesn’t come out when you pinch a seed with your fingernail, it’s not fresh, and the finches won’t enjoy it. Finches can actually tell the difference. They frequently visit feeders with new Nyjer® and often ignore those with old, dried-out seeds.
4. Add Brightly Colored Ribbons & Plants
Birds have an extremely developed sensitivity to color and are attracted to bright colors not commonly found in nature. Adding something like a colorful ribbon can help attract finches, as the movement in the wind can make them feel like another bird has already explored the new feeder and found it to be safe. You can also use colorful and flowering plant species in your garden so birds on the fly can spot your finch-friendly backyard from the sky.
There are many finch species in North America, including the American goldfinch, the house finch, purple finch, and more. Bright yellow American goldfinches are one of the favorites of backyard birders. They are entertaining to watch, with vibrant, beautiful feathers, and they are relatively easy to attract to feeders.
American goldfinches molt their feathers twice a year, once in the winter and once before mating season. These bright yellow feathers are not always as bright. In the winter, they become a dull green or gray making them harder to spot. But they can still be around all year, not just in spring and summer, because not all finches migrate in the winter. Most regions of the United States can feed finches all year long. With these tips, you’ll be able to attract finches to your yard in any season.
Kaytees’ wild bird experts have determined the best tips and tricks for drawing finches to feeders. The right combination of bird feeders, bird seed, and environmental factors is the key to attracting the species you want to see.
Pick the Right Bird Feeder
Use the Right Seed
The American goldfinch’s diet consists of mostly seeds. They love Nyjer Seed and Sunflower Seeds . These seeds are high in oil and easy to eat with their smaller beaks. Because finches prefer the combo of Nyjer seed and socks, this duo is your best bet for attracting a bright yellow feathered friend.
Kaytee also created a finch blend that is perfect for these birds called the Wild Finch Blend . It is designed to attract finches including American goldfinches, pine siskins, purple finches, lesser goldfinches, and redpolls.
If you are looking for the ultimate blend that is preferred by most finches, pick up the Ultra Wild Finch Blend , which is a combination of four seed ingredients to draw those finches to your feeders.
Create a Welcoming Environment
Growing specific plants can help attract certain birds to your yard. Finches like backyards that have open, grassy field-like space. Plant grassy, weedy species, as well as plants and flowers with many seeds.
Goldfinches are known to enjoy thistle plants. They eat the thistle plant seeds and use the mature thistle down in their nests during breeding season. Other plants that have been known to attract finches include cottonwood fluff, cattails, and milkweed.
And, as always, the essential environmental factor is water. Since finches stick around all year long, they will be looking for running water that doesn’t freeze. For the few that do migrate, they will need water along their journey and when they land at their destination after a long flight. Offering the winning combination of feeders full of the right seeds and plant species will make your backyard a finch hot spot.
Nature lovers who attract finches will enjoy the sights, sounds, and antics of these fascinating birds. You can join them by learning how to attract finches to your yard.
The American Goldfinch is so beloved that Iowa, New Jersey, and Washington all claim it as their state bird.
Goldfinches and finch family members are some of the most welcome birds in North American backyards. They are also some of the most recognizable.
Why We Love Finches
There are many reasons bird lovers find finches so appealing in the garden. Part of it is watching the males showing off their colorful plumage. They perform acrobatic feats and maneuvers while sharing their distinctive song. It is hard not to stop what you’re doing to watch and listen.
The more drab, camouflage-colored females can be as active and just as vocal as the males. They are a very busy and attractive bird who is unbothered by and often oblivious to human activity.
This female finch may be duller in color, but just as beautiful as the brighter yellow males.
Most of the finch family are migratory birds. They spend the warmer days of spring and summer in northern climates and then fly south for the winter. They nest later in the year than most birds, often into early autumn. One reason is to take advantage of the abundance of seeds and grains available to feed their young at this time of year.
The goldfinches are generally monogamous birds that raise 1-2 clutches a year. The young leave the nest around 17 days after hatching. Each clutch might be anywhere from 3-7 eggs, which take about two weeks to incubate. The female builds a nest of materials often found from the same plants on which they feed. Thistledown is a favorite along with milkweed fluff and fiber.
How to Attract Finches to Your Yard
Attracting finches to your feeder and other areas of your yard isn’t difficult. Once they’ve discovered the free meal, you will have daily visits from your new feathered guests. There are three main things needed to both attract finches to your yard and to keep them coming back.
Include a Water Source for Drinking and Bathing
A nearby source of water is a necessity if you want to keep finches returning. It can be a stream, fountain, or even a birdbath as long as the water is clean and fresh.
If providing birdbaths, place small rocks, or marbles in the basin to help them realize the water is shallow. Birds have little to no depth perception and will avoid it if they think it is deeper than an inch or two.
Provide Varying Types of Food
Finches are granivorous birds, which means they survive on a diet based on grains and seeds. They may also eat the occasional insects, but the seed is their first choice. Thistle or Nyjer seeds are at the top of their list along with black oil sunflower seeds.
There are many types of popular bird feeders designed to attract finches. It comes down to offering the right food to entice them. Nyjer bird seed is always a popular choice with finches.
Whichever feeder you use, just like with waterers, be sure to keep them clean. Birds can transfer diseases and illnesses to each other just by visiting the same feeding station or water source.
Flowers That Attract Finches
In addition to bird feeders, finches will also flock to your garden in late summer to feast on your garden’s seeds. Here are a few flowers that produce an abundance of their favorites.
- Black-eyed Susans
When these flowers go to seed, by all means, please don’t cut them down. While it may look a little messy, it is a small price to pay to feed the birds some of their favorites. The birds will love it and come to your garden in droves to feast on the flower seeds.
Yellow finch eating cosmos and zinnia seeds in the late summer garden.
Create an Attractive Habitat With Shelter
Providing adequate shelter can help encourage finches to stay around your yard and raise their young. While tall trees are welcome right along with open meadows and brushy areas, the American Goldfinch actually prefers weedy fields. It is not uncommon to observe a flock of finches descending into a wild field full of thistles and making it their summer home.
It is possible to recreate a garden area like this by planting sunflowers, thistles, asters, and milkweed. These plants and many others will provide the birds’ shelter as well as food and nesting materials.
Finches like to build their homes in a structure that supports their cup-shaped nests. A few of their favorite shrubs and trees include dogwood trees, elderberry, Hawthorne, and buttonbush. Shady areas between three to ten feet off the ground are a prime location for nest building.
Fun Finch Facts
Most finches are in the area of the 5 or 6-inch size range. These smaller birds are dwarfed by their cousins, the grosbeaks, who come in closer to 8 inches in length.
Goldfinches are a very social bird, sometimes congregating in big flocks during feeding time. They are also observed in large numbers during migration periods. Goldfinch pairs tend to have identical calls while in flight and are easily identified by their mates and other finches.
American Goldfinches can have long lives for a wild bird, averaging around 6 years. One of the oldest recorded birds was aged 10 years and 9 months when it was recaptured and released in a Maryland study.
Issue an Invitation
Now that you’ve learned how to attract the lovely finch, it’s time to get started.
Set up your feeders, ensure your backyard has both water and shelter, and plant their favorite flowers. Then just sit back and wait. The birds will appreciate your invitation and start arriving soon. Once you begin welcoming these bright and cheerful little birds into your yard, you’ll wish you’d done it years ago.
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Attract Northern Finches in Winter
Putneypics / Flickr / Used With Permission
Winter may seem like a bland season since warblers, tanagers, hummingbirds, and other favorite summer birds are absent. Birders who take steps to attract winter finches, however, can enjoy outstanding seasonal color and energetic activity at their feeders and bird baths even in the coldest weather. These acrobatic finches are highly sought after winter visitors, and they’re easy to attract with a yard that meets their seasonal needs.
Types of Winter Finches
The birds typically called winter finches are small finches that prefer northern climates and boreal or Arctic habitats. In the harshest, coldest part of winter, these birds’ southern migration brings them into yards in more temperate areas. They may also experience periodic irruptions even further south, much to the delight of birders who do not have the opportunity to travel to northern areas for birding.
The exact winter finches that may appear in any yard can vary depending on the harshness of the weather, food supplies in northern areas, predator populations, and other factors. Some of the most highly anticipated winter visitors include:
- Brown-capped rosy finches
- Black rosy-finches
- Common redpolls
- Evening grosbeaks
- Gray-crowned rosy-finches
- Hoary redpolls
- Pine grosbeaks
- Pine siskins
- Purple finches
- Red crossbills
- White-winged crossbills
In addition to these finch species, other northern species of sparrows, buntings, juncos, and longspurs are also popular winter guests. Many of the techniques used to entice finches will also work on other small northern birds.
How to Attract Winter Finches
Birds will readily come to a yard that meets their survival needs. For winter finches migrating away from scarce food supplies and frozen habitats, that means providing rich, reliable sources of food, water, and shelter for them to use.
- Food: Winter finches are typically granivorous and eat a variety of seeds. Adding extra Nyjer, black oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower, and millet to feeding areas will provide an abundant food source when these flocks arrive. Mesh or screen clinging feeders are ideal, and larger finches will visit hopper or platform feeders with comfortable perches. Seed-bearing flowers can also be left standing in a yard or garden for ground-feeding species to forage, or seed can be sprinkled directly over the ground. Feeding areas should be spacious to accommodate the large flocks these birds form so there is enough food for all.
- Water: Liquid water is essential for all winter birds, and while they can melt snow and ice to drink, doing so requires extra calories that may be hard to come by when food supplies dwindle. Providing a heated bird bath with fresh, clean water can attract many winter birds, including finches. Several baths can help accommodate larger flocks, and both ground bird baths and elevated baths can be used to give birds more options. If possible, position a bath underneath an area where icicles form, and as they melt occasionally, the drips that fall into the bath will help attract even more birds.
- Shelter: Even the hardiest birds need protection from bitter nighttime temperatures and winter storms. Winter finches are comfortable in coniferous trees and shrubs, and planting a thicket of these trees will create a safe, easy roosting area for them to take advantage of. Dead trees and snags can be left intact, and birds will use any cavities or hollows as shelter. Leaving birdhouses up in winter can provide extra shelter, as can specialized bird roost boxes. If it’s not possible to add shelter to a yard, using a discarded Christmas tree as an interim brush pile can be helpful.
More Tips for Attracting Winter Finches
Even in a bird-friendly yard, it can be a challenge to make winter finches feel welcome. If you’re having trouble inviting these northern visitors to your yard, several other steps can help encourage their visits.
- Discourage bully birds that may usurp food supplies before finches can feed.
- Refill feeders frequently, even in storms, so birds can rely on the food source.
- Keep bird feeders clean to avoid spreading diseases to winter flocks.
- Take steps to protect feeders from snow and ice so the food is always accessible.
- Put some seed under a patio table, elevated deck, or other covering so it does not get buried by falling snow.
- Hawks are hungry in the winter too; take steps to protect backyard birds from hawks to keep visiting winter finches safe.
Winter finches, including redpolls, crossbills, grosbeaks, and other northern species, add color and energy to yards even when the world seems frozen. By meeting these birds’ needs for proper food, water, and shelter during the harshest months, backyard birders can enjoy great birds no matter how bad the weather.
The American Goldfinch, Carduelis tristis, is a beautiful backyard songbird that happens to frequent our garden so I thought I’d share how I attract them with others.
The easiest way to attract these birds is with a sock full of niger thistle seeds. You can get these at most home improvement stores, but I’ve seen them for really cheap at Walmart. These mesh socks nicely contain the seed and allows the finches to eat at varying angles (such as upside down) that they’re oft to do at times.
There are also more expensive finch feeders, large plastic contraptions with multiple eating locations. These, I do not recommend. The socks accomplish the same thing, in a better way, for less money. We had one of these finch feeders before, and the birds would never use it, whereas they use the socks every day. So, apparently 9 in 10 goldfinches agree, simple socks are more useable.
These yellow birds love the seeds of thistles, dandelions, goldenrod, sunflowers (especially maximillian sunflowers, they’ve literally attacked mine for the seed), and coneflowers. They do not use cavities (houses) for nesting, prefering to nest in shrubs and trees, so a wooded lot of some sort is a good idea. And of course when trying to attract any sort of wildlife, water is a good idea as well. So a nice birdbath or fountain is recommended.
The American Gold Finch is a somewhat shy bird, they prefer to eat away from other species, so place don’t place your sock right next to any other type of birdfeeder.
8 Responses to “Attract Yellow Goldfinches to your Garden”
- Dave Says:
September 20th, 2007 at 10:02 pm
I disagree. The plastic contraptions, better known as tube feeders are more attractive in the yard than that jock strap hanging from the branch. That nut sack will attract goldfinches and West Hollywood Twinks to your yard!
Thanks, this was very helpful. I rather like the resourcefulness. I don’t know where Dave puts his socks, but clearly he made a connection between socks and jock straps that wasn’t in the article.
I have to agree! I like tube feeders, i think they are more attractive. I enjoyed the article.
Gardening SUCKS! I hate vegetables.
My finches won’t use the plastic feeders – only sock feeders. I’m from Oklahoma and live next to a pond.
I’ve used the plastic feeder tubes for several years and have not had any problems attracting golden as well other types of finches native to our eastern Iowa area.
Also like the tubes to perserve the seed against weathering.
These birds will not use the fancy plastic type feeders in my yard. They love the sock niger seeds and my squirrel proof feeder providing oil sunflower seeds.
What kind of plants or bushes do I need to plant to best attract the yellow finches? I live in NW Georgia, Dade County to be exact. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
You can’t help but notice these active and acrobatic little birds with a short, conical bill and a small, head, long wings, and short, notched tail, especially this time of year.
Photo submitted by Floyd Seitz
Adult male Finches in spring and early summer are bright yellow with black forehead, black wings with white markings, and white patches both above and beneath the tail. The adult female Finches are duller yellow beneath, olive above.
Finches fly with a bouncy, undulating pattern and often call in flight, drawing attention to them with their po-ta-to-chip flight call. They’re most abundant in areas with thistle plants, and near feeders clinging to weeds and seed socks, and sometimes milling about in large numbers at feeders or on the ground beneath them.
These birds are attracted to yards with native thistles and other composite plants, as well as native milkweed and are known to nest later in the season – July through September.
You can attract Finches to your birdfeeders with plenty of sunflower chips and plain thistle.
Almost any kind of bird feeder will attract Finches (hopper, platform, and hanging feeders) and these birds don’t even mind feeders that sway in the wind. They are also happy to feed on the ground below feeders, eating spilled seeds. To help protect Finches from contagious diseases at feeders, be sure to keep the ground below them well-raked.
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Nyjer® (thistle) is finches’ favorite food.
Nyjer’s high oil content makes it an excellent energy source for active birds, and it’s best used in our specially designed finch feeders. It is important to keep the food fresh because finches can be picky eaters. Nyjer has a thin shell and is vulnerable to spoilage while in the tube. Once seed starts to dry out and become stale, finches will look for fresher forage. Replace Nyjer in feeders every three to four weeks if it is not being actively eaten. Store your Nyjer in an airtight container for a longer shelf life, and buy in quantities that will be used up in a few weeks.
Finch Blend includes Nyjer ® (thistle) and fine sunflower chips. It’s a favorite of goldfinches, house finches, purple finches and pine siskins.
No shells. No mess. No millet. 100% edible. Our No-Mess No Millet Blend is great near flower beds, patios and decks.
Our unique No-Mess Blend No Millet Blend bird seed features seeds that have had their shells removed so only the meat of the seed is left. No hulls on the seeds makes for tidier feeding, since there’s no debris on the ground to clean up. Pound for pound, our No-Mess No Millet Blend bird seed offers the best value because you do not pay for uneaten seed waste. The birds eat everything.
Our No-Mess Blend’s mix of sunflower chips, tree nuts and shelled peanuts appeals to birds that eat at the feeder or on the ground.
Capacity: 1¾ qts
Dimensions: 23½” x 6½” x 6″
Tube: 19″ x 2¾” diameter
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