We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.
Vintage Oaks at Novato,
104 Vintage Way, Suite A-7
Novato, CA 94945
Phone: (415) 893-0500
Fax: (415) 893-0511
Email: Send Message
Mon - Sat: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun: 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Located between Macy's Furniture/BevMo and Pier 1.
Lesser Goldfinches – Local Photo by Laura Milholland – Get this feeder
There are two species of goldfinches commonly seen at feeders in the Bay Area, Lesser Goldfinches and American Goldfinches. Both are present year round (although Lesser Goldfinches visit feeders much less in summer) and may be attracted to homes in almost any habitat outside of dense forest. Take a look at this article if you'd like to learn more about the finer points of goldfinch identification.
American Goldfinches may eat normal black oil sunflower, and both species will happily eat hulled sunflower chips alone or in a blend such as our No-Mess. The food that is a particular favorite of goldfinches, however, is a seed called Nyjer, or thistle. This is a tiny black seed which is highly attractive to goldfinches and Pine Siskins and which will also be eaten by House Finches, juncos, and sparrows. Why offer Nyjer if hulled sunflower attracts goldfinches and a wider variety of birds? Because of what it doesn't attract: squirrels, rodents, jays, and crows all generally give it a pass.
It is important to use a specialty finch feeder with small feeding ports when offering Nyjer seed; the larger feeding ports on general purpose feeders will encourage other birds to sort through the Nyjer and cause spilling of seed. Within the world of finch feeders, however, there are still several options to choose from.
|Fabric Mesh Sock||$3-$6||Short-lived||Seed exposed to rain||Difficult to add trays and domes|
|Metal Mesh||$12-$45||More durable||Seed exposed to rain||May be compatible with trays and domes|
|Cheap Tube||$10-$16||More durable||Better rain protection||May be compatible with trays and domes|
|Good Tube||$30+||Lifetime guarantee||Better rain protection||Fully compatible with trays and domes|
Finch socks are an inexpensive way to experiment with attracting finches. Local picture of American Goldfinches by Jack Gedney.
In addition to seed feeders, goldfinches also come readily to birdbaths. Make sure to get a shallow bath so that goldfinches and other small birds can both drink and bathe comfortably. While goldfinches build open cup nests in trees and will not use bird houses, they can be attracted to cotton nesting material which they use to line their nests. Put out one of our fluffy nest-building balls in spring to watch goldfinches and other birds gather material for their nests.
When putting up a finch feeder for the first time, it may take from a few days to (exceptionally) several months for birds to discover it. Unlike a standard sunflower feeder, which is attractive to many different species, Nyjer is most strongly attractive to goldfinches in particular and you will have to wait for them to locate the feeder by sight.
If you have been attracting goldfinches and find that you haven't been seeing any recently, the first thing to do is check the condition of your seed. If it has been in the feeder for a long time, particularly if it has gotten wet, it may have spoiled or gone stale. Replace your seed if there is any visible mold, clumping together from moisture, if it has lost its wholesome nutty smell, or if it has been in the feeder for over a month with no activity.
Although our goldfinches do not migrate, you will notice natural fluctuations in the level of bird activity at your feeders. Many yards experience an extended lull between April and September or so, with significantly more activity during the winter months. One reason for this is nesting behavior; winter-flocking goldfinches break up into breeding pairs and stay close to their nesting sites. Another reason is the seasonal abundance of natural foods as goldfinches feed first on new growth and flower buds, and then on the seeds produced by grasses, thistles, and other plants. If you've had uneaten Nyjer seed in your feeder for more than a month, it has probably become stale or rancid and will need to be replaced with fresh seed.