Erie, Pennsylvania

Goldfinches love Nyjer SeedHow Do I Attract

Goldfinches?

With their bright yellow plumage and cheery song, it's no wonder everybody wants goldfinches in their yards.  Fortunately, goldfinches can be easily enticed into most any yard in our region.  The American Goldfinch is a year-round resident that can be attracted with the right combination of food and native plants.

Food

Goldfinches will happily visit Finch Feeders to eat Nyjer seed (sometimes called thistle).  Finches are picky eaters, so it is important to make sure the Nyjer you serve them is fresh.  Any Nyjer seed that has been outside in feeders for over 4 weeks should be replaced with fresh seed.  Goldfinches also eat Black Oil Sunflower seed, especially in the winter.

A Goldfinch visits a Purple Coneflower for seedNative Plants

Goldfinches love eating the seeds of a number of native plants, and will often choose these plants over coming to your feeders.  Coneflowers, sunflowers, native thistles, and dandelions all produce seeds that goldfinches consume in great quantities.  Leave sunflower and coneflower seed heads on the stalks to enjoy finches in your garden during the summer and fall.  You can also cut the seed heads, bundle them together, and hang them as winter feeders.

Native thistles provide finches with nesting material, as well as food.  Goldfinches gather the down of the thistle to line their nests.  Some non-native thistles can be very invasive, so be sure to check with your local plant nursery before you plant thistle in your yard.

Goldfinch Activity Cycle

Goldfinches begin molting into their familiar brilliant yellow plummage at the end of March.  At this time, goldfinches start to consume more Nyjer seed and will flock to finch feeders.  Finch activity continues to increase through early May.  At this time, dandelions go to seed and finches drop off at feeders to take advantage of this natural food source.  Goldfinches will continue to cycle in and out at finch feeders for the rest of spring through summer, depending on available natural food sources.

Goldfinches nest late in the eastern part of the US, delaying their nesting cycle to coincide with the thistle down and seed production of native thistle plants.  This typically happens at the end of July.  Unlike other birds, finches do not start their nestlings on an insect diet, but feed them seeds only from the very first day.  Goldfinches will remain active at feeders during this time, with a spike in activity in late August when young birds are brought into the feeders by their parents.  American Goldfinch in Winter PlumageFinch activity continues through October as the adults begin to molt into their drab winter plumage.

November through the following March generally sees a drop in finches at Nyjer feeders, although some people see steady activity all winter long.  Often, goldfinches may switch their diet to feeding more on sunflower seeds during winter.

For more on attracting goldfinches, stop in and see us today.