Where Did the Goldfinches Go?

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!


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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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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lois Frederick October 8, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Both goldfinches and house finches were eating from a white net bag filled with Nyjer. We purchased a new bag but it is black. The finches haven’t been back and it’s been more than a week. I plan to try the old white net seed bag and hope they’ll be back. Any suggestions?

Heidi Babb November 3, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Besides our popular plastic and metal Nyjer feeders, we sell two styles of Nyjer Stockings. We have the plain white stockings that you can buy singly or in sets of 3 or 6. We also sell an easy-to-fill Flip Top Mesh Bag, that is black with a yellow lid. I have never heard of finches having a color preference for feeders, but it could be that your local flock is just used to the white bags. You could try putting out one of the old white bags near the black bag and don’t refill the white bag when it’s empty. By that time, the finches should be a bit more trusting of the new black bag and be happy to eat the seed from it. You could also check the freshness of the seed. Fresh Nyjer seed has an almost sharp smell to it, and when it becomes stale it has nearly no fragrance at all. The birds will not be eager to eat seed that is old or stale. Please let us know if you have any other questions about these feeders or any of our other products. Our friendly, knowledgeable customer service team is available Monday – Friday from 8:30 am-5:00 pm ET at 1-800-763-7878.

Howard Duvall December 13, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Its now Dec. when is the best time to put out the stocking feeders for finches in East Texas

Heidi Babb December 31, 2014 at 11:28 am

Thanks for the great question! You can put your stockings out any time and keep them out as long as the finches are eating the seed. Sometimes nyger consumption drops during the warmer summer months. Finches love the tasty nyger seed, but they also like to eat black oil sunflower seed sometimes.

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