|American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Goldfinches are social birds that inhabit nearly all of North America year-round. Naturally seed-eaters, these guys can be found in open fields, the edges of forests and backyards.
Experienced bird feeders will recognize the goldfinch as part of a group known as "clingers." These birds prefer not to use traditional perches but will cling at all angles to get at their food source. This is an important consideration when choosing feeders for these guys. Other notable clingers are woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches.
These birds naturally eat small seeds so thistle (nyjer) is one of their ultimate favourites. You can also feed them finely crushed sunflower hearts by themselves or with thistle mixed in. Mine love the nyjer and hearts mixed together.
Good feeders for these guys can have specialized perches or spirals running the length of the feeder or have a custom design that only goldfinches would use.
Aspects actually make a tube feeder with the seed ports below the perch. Goldfinches don't take issue at all with having to feed upside down and you keep birds such as sparrows and house finches from taking over and forcing the goldies out.
Another great way to feed them is with a thistle sock. Just fill the sock with thistle, hang it and enjoy! Anywhere from 4-12 birds can cling to the sides and feed depending on the length of the sock.
Mesh feeders are a more and more popular way of providing food for goldfinches as well. The fine mesh walls of these feeders both provide a great place to latch onto while feeding but the seed is also held securely in the feeder but easy for the birds to pluck out with their beaks. I included a picture of a Birds Choice mesh feeder below.
Their mating behaviour is also a little different from other birds. They prefer to nest in mid to late summer instead of in the spring. This is because they time their young to hatch when the thistle seed is ready to eat. Goldfinches can be found nesting through August. Providing nesting materials in your yard could encourage them to take up residence nearby!
As I said earlier, goldfinches stay in most of their range all year round but a lot of people don't realize they are still around. The finches actually lose their bright yellow colour in the winter and turn a nice shade of olive-brown. A lot of people just assume they are sparrows. Goldfinches will actually come to your feeders in much larger numbers in the fall and winter in search of food so it is a great time to get large flocks of them!