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.
While 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.
An excellent feeder for offering these is the Duncraft Squirrel Blocker Feeder (shown 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)