Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Summer Gold – the Finches

A tube feeder stocked with thistle seeds is the easiest way to attract goldfinches to your feeding station (photos by Paul Konrad).
Landscaping for goldfinches can include wild sunflowers and gardening for goldfinches may include growing larger black oil sunflowers.

Have you been enjoying the finches of summer? We hear a lot about “winter finches” in anticipation of potential “irruptions” from the north, but the most popular of all our finches might be spring and summer goldfinches, the golden beauties that fill our feeding stations with flashes of bright color and fast action. Whether it’s American Goldfinches, Lesser Goldfinches, or Lawrence’s Goldfinches, these birds add appreciably to any yard, feeder, and feeding station. Essentially, it’s easy to share your yard with goldfinches, and it’s so much fun.

Easy, because you really only need to provide a couple things to attract and benefit goldfinches – thistle seeds and water. It’s that easy! Most of us feed goldfinches thistle seeds in a tube feeder, and although they come in a variety of sizes and colors, most are hanging tube feeders, some with a plastic umbrella to protect them from the elements and squirrels. There are also finch tube feeders that have a surrounding “cage” to keep larger birds and mammals from accessing the feeder while permitting finches and buntings to eat seeds.

If you stock a seed feeder through the summer months, you know that summer goldfinches (and winter goldfinches) also like shelled sunflower seeds and likely utilize your favorite seed mix too.

Goldfinch Water

Fresh water is always the best bet to attract any birds, and goldfinches are often first in line to drink at a bird bath or another water feature. They will also provide a nice show while bathing, although such small birds require a very shallow water basin or bird bath, and a larger water feature should have a shallow edge. Too often, companies market bird baths that are just too deep for small birds, but sometimes that can be resolved if you keep the water level shallow, which will require more frequent trips to fill it to between ½ inch and an inch for goldfinches.

Goldfinch Habitat

By providing preferred foods and backyard habitat, you may be able to attract some goldfinches to build a nest in nearby trees to lay and incubate eggs, and raise nestlings. Landscaping is also important for goldfinches looking for summer foods in the form of small insects, spiders, and caterpillars. Grass seeds are utilized too, wild sunflowers are favorites, and even dandelion seeds are gleaned in case you have a few on the edges of your yard.

Gardening for Goldfinches

You can also plant a few big black oil sunflowers in your garden for goldfinches to utilize during late summer and fall – the more sunflowers, the more goldfinches. Sunflowers can also be planted in decorative pots to add some color and provide another attraction for goldfinches.

You add a little sunshine to your yard and feeding station when you attract goldfinches, and other birds will benefit from the foods and backyard habitat you provide for the finches of summer.

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