Where Did the Goldfinches Go?

July 29, 2014

American Goldfinch Carduelis tristisNever Never Land! Just kidding. But a lot of anxious birders have been contacting us with concern because goldfinches are no longer coming in for their favorite food: Nyjer. Which raises more questions: What are they eating? Where did they go? What can I do?

Nyjer is still one of their favorite foods, so why aren’t they eating? Goldfinches are just eating something else. Unlike many other birds, goldfinches have their nesting season from June through September, which means they have more mouths to feed. Nestlings require a meatier diet so they can get out on their own within 12-14 days, which means Nyjer isn’t going to do the trick.

Water Rippling BirdbathWhat can I do? Supplement Nyjer with either black oil sunflower seed or sunflower hearts. Both of these foods offer hearty meals to help nestlings grow. You can also provide a water source nearby, like the Water Rippling Birdbath, so nestlings will have an easier time finding their first sip of water.

If the weather’s been really nice, like above 70 degrees, then there’s a good chance it’s time to change your bird seed. Seed should be changed once every six days when it’s about 70 degrees out because the food becomes more susceptible to growing bacteria, which means bad health for birds. Unclean feeders have a similar effect, which is why it’s important to clean your feeders with soap and hot water in between refills. You can then use either of the hearty seeds above to attract goldfinches again.

American Goldfinches on Squirrel Blocker FeederIf you don’t have a feeder that holds either black oil sunflower seeds or sunflower hearts, consider the Squirrel Blocker Feeder because the cage keeps the seed aerated and fresh. Add a baffle to keep seed fresh for longer! If you’re sure your goldfinches want nothing other than their old favorite, just check your Nyjer seed to make sure it’s still fresh. Be sure to clean out the feeder before refilling with fresher seed.

Bring the flutter back to your feeders! With a little patience and adjustment to their nesting period, your birds should return. Once they do, they can have a block party on the Squirrel Blocker Feeder, which houses up to 12 birds—at once!


Dawn Coutu watches the birds when she walks, instead of the sidewalk.

Founded in 1952 and located in Concord, New Hampshire, Duncraft's objective is to bring the joy of backyard birding to wild bird lovers all across the country.


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