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I’m Being Overrun By Goldfinches! Here’s How You Can Too

goldfinchesNo Goldfinches?

Like a lot of people I’ve been talking to this year, I’ve had a real challenge getting goldfinches into my back yard. I’ve tried cleaning, changing seed, changing seed brands and praying. Up until a couple of weeks ago, it didn’t seem like there was any way to change this trend.

One day, I was out in my garage inventorying my feeders and supplies. I came upon a chickadee feeder that I had cleaned and retired last year at some point. It’s one I normally keep hanging just outside my back door. I know the reason I took it down is I wasn’t really getting anything but house finches on it and it does make a bit of a mess so close to the house. This has a tendency to attract all manner or things, including skunks. I clean out there at least twice/week so I’m not talking about a heap of stuff either.

I can remember vividly the night last year when I ALMOST let my dog out the back door. Thankfully, I remembered to check outside before I let her out. At the bottom of my steps was a young skunk trying to get as much sunflower seed scraps it could. That made up my mind to take it down. It just wasn’t worth the risk for the little bit of traffic it was getting.

Seeing this feeder I thought I might as well put it up and see if that would help my goldfinch issue.

And that has made all the difference!

Within two days of putting it out there, I started seeing a couple more, five more and then twenty or more new birds coming to this feeder! Within a week, they were attacking my previously uninteresting thistle feeder. Now, I can’t keep seed in the chickadee feeder and the thistle feeder is being emptied at least one perch level per day. As I’m looking at it now, it’s almost empty because I missed yesterday due to rain.

Besides this, they are also making regular rounds to my other sunflower seed feeder!

I’ve written previously about How to Attract Golfinches Into Your Back Yard but I wanted to review some things I think will really help you bring them back.

Updated List of How to Attract More Goldfinches

In no particular order, they are:

  • If you have a feeder with old seed in it, take it down, clean it and refill it. If your seed is more than six months old, consider composting it and replacing it. Goldfinches are very aware of seed age and old (not necessarily bad, mind you) seed will kill your chances of getting them at your feeders.
  • If you have tube feeders, consider getting a clear plastic dome to hang it from in your back yard. Preferably not one with the two piece wind resistant fixture. Those are no help whatsoever in keeping water out of the tube. Trust me on this!
  • Buy some sunflower chips or chips and hearts and put them in a chickadee feeder you can hang close to your house. This will discourage other birds from taking it over.
  • If you have squirrels, consider buying a squirrel proof tube feeder for your chips. Squirrels don’t care at all about thistle but they’ll take your house down looking for sunflower seed!
  • Consider adding water if you don’t have it already. Just another nicety they love to visit. Especially if it’s close to one of their feeders. Here’s a simple but elegant resin bird bath.
  • If you’ve done everything above and still don’t see them, consider moving your feeders around. They do like to have readily available cover (trees, bushes and brush) and will reward you for easing their minds.

Talk To Me!

Try these things and let me know what success you have with them. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends and family on social media using the links below. That is unless you just want to make your birding friends green with envy and don’t want to share your secrets-HA!

Have a great week,

Jeff


2 Responses to “I’m Being Overrun By Goldfinches! Here’s How You Can Too”

  1. Heidi says:

    Have you seen this finch conjuctivitis in any of your goldfinches? I have seen one goldfinch with it at my tube feeder so removed the feeder. Apparently you can bleach your feeders often to try to prevent the spread. It is exacerbated and spread by tube feeders
    http://feederwatch.org/learn/house-finch-eye-disease/

  2. BirdDude says:

    Hello Heidi,

    I have had goldfinches contract the disease from feeders house finches used. It’s very hard to act quick enough but I believe you did the right thing. There are some who say that “ALL” you have to do is wash them daily to keep it from spreading but I know that’s pretty rigorous for anybody who doesn’t have a lot of time on their hands.

    The people that push this do because they say taking down the feeders just makes the birds go elsewhere and infect other birds. That may be 100% accurate but if I take down my feeders when I see this, at least I know I’M not directly causing the spread in my own back yard.

    I believe as long as you clean them before you put them back up, you should be good.

    I also blogged about this back in 2008 when I had a serious issue with this Here’s the post: Take Down Feeders

    The other statement you made is spot on too. Tube feeders are the WORST for this! I have taken down all traditional tube feeders because of my high house finch population. I use upside-down thistle feeders for goldfinches and a hopper feeder. Neither require the bird to stick its head in and rub the sides with its face doing so. This has cut down the house finch eye disease to none in the last few years.

    I DO put out a chickadee feeder with sunflower chips that the goldfinches also love. It comes down as soon as I see house finches using it.

    Thanks for stopping by and joining in the discussion.

    What part of the country are you?

    Jeff

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