Where Have My Goldfinches Gone?

July 16, 2013

We’ve gotten quite a few calls recently from anxious birders who are worried about a lack of goldfinches visiting their Nyjer seed feeders. After all, Nyjer seed makes up by far most of a goldfinch’s diet; why would they suddenly disappear? Many of these callers are worried that they’re doing something wrong, but actually, they haven’t done anything wrong at all. Instead, there’s an easily explained natural reason for the sharp decrease in goldfinch attendance.

5049_300While it’s true that goldfinches love Nyjer seed above all else, it’s also true that during the summer months, they begin to shy away from including it as such a staple of their diet. The reason? They’ve got young birds to take care of, and young birds need something meatier to eat than Nyjer seed. Most birds will feed their young birds insects at this point, but goldfinches tend to stick with seed. Therefore, it’s recommended that you stop serving the Nyjer seed, store that particular feeder until the winter and instead start serving black oil sunflower seeds and sunflower hearts. 1462newAn excellent feeder for offering these is the Duncraft Squirrel Blocker Feeder (seen at right), which has space for more than 12 perching birds and stainless-steel mesh to keep the seed inside fresh and aerated.

The other option, if you’d rather not give up on the Nyjer seed, is to make absolutely sure that the seed in your feeder is fresh and clean. We’ve had quite a bit of rain at our office in Concord, NH in recent weeks, and precipitation like that has the ability to wreak havoc with the seed that you serve. If you’ve had similar weather or just want to make sure that your seed is at its optimal attractiveness and nutritional value, there’s one thing that works better than everything else – a complete re-do of the supply inside. Empty the feeder out, clean it all up and then refill it with new and fresher seed.

As with all other birds, goldfinches both like and need water, making it a good idea to offer bathing and drinking options to attract them to your yard as well.

So there’s no reason to fret, those of you worrying about the lack of goldfinches. Just adapt to the situation at hand and your goldfinches will be back sooner than you can say “sunflower hearts.” Happy birding!

- By Sean Peick (Guest Writer)

Did you like this article? “Like” us on Facebook too!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Croff December 28, 2013 at 2:16 pm

It is now winter and there are still no gold finches at my feeder. This has been a trend for the past few years. There is definetely something going on with the gold finch population in central MA.
Dave

Joan Howell January 7, 2014 at 2:22 pm

I too miss the goldfinches. Its now January and in spite of 2 nyjer feeders I have only 1 lone goldfinch who is traveling in a flock of housefinches. Where are they? I’d like to hear from those who actually have them on their feeders and their locations. I’m in central New Jersey and very curious indeed. I certainly hope this is not a permanent situation!

Nina March 17, 2014 at 12:14 pm

This is going on year two of no goldfinches at our feeders. Always had plenty. Then starting around November 2012 they disappeared. Last summer we saw a couple but that was it. Something more than just the type of food in the feeders is going on. We are just south of Boston. Have searched online for answers and found nothing. Will try Mass Audubon next.

Rita April 2, 2014 at 5:33 pm

We had Finches all winter but the past several weeks they haven’t been around! What happened? We live near Chicago and our winter was very harsh, but they were still here!

April April 9, 2014 at 1:06 pm

I had over 25 goldfinches and now they are all gone!!! What have I done wrong? I live in the Northern part of Mississippi. Please help!

Wilma Limber` May 18, 2014 at 6:58 am

Had lots and lots of both gold and red finches until recently and now hardly any. But had lots of rain and cooler weather. Will try fresh niger seed in a new sock and see if that helps. Maybe the sunflower hearts also. Northwest Ohio

Ken May 22, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Very few goldfinches this spring. There were many this past fall. I also note fewer migratory birds. Cardinals are just as numerous as usual.

Lynda July 14, 2014 at 7:43 pm

I am in Southwestern Ontario. The goldfinch population has declined almost disappeared the las two years.

Sharon Beres Rosen July 17, 2014 at 11:07 am

I live at the NJ Shore and we haven’t seen a goldfinch in over a year. I have plenty of other finches at the feeders and birdbaths, so I know the seed is OK.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: