Don’t Forget the Goldfinches

Article and Photos by Michele Dupraw

We are often asked when the goldfinches migrate.  The answer is: “They don’t.”

American and Lesser Goldfinches stay in our region all year long. The males have molted and now have a drab pale yellow plumage. I think they are often overlooked and perhaps not noticed as much in the garden as they are in the springtime when they are a bright dazzling yellow. Goldfinches are a joy to feed. Currently I am getting large flocks of them swarming the feeders. They are eating Sunflower Chips and Nyjer “Thistle.” They have a pleasant song and are gregarious birds that seem to hang out on my feeders nearly all day. I have a couple of Aspect’s Quick Clean tube feeders that I fill with Sunflower Chips. The Goldfinches are perching birds and love the tube feeders. I added a tray to the feeder to give them even more places to perch and feed. By using the Sunflower Chips and a tray I don’t have any mess under my feeder to clean up. It all gets eaten! The Quick Clean feeders are a wonderful new development in tube feeder technology. With a squeeze of a button, I can detach the base of the feeder and clean the tube. They are very time saving and it leaves no excuse for dirty feeders which can be harmful for birds.

When I realized I had a sudden influx of Goldfinches I put out a Nyjer “Thistle” sack too. The sacks are inexpensive and it’s entertaining to see the birds navigate the sack. At times they are even upside-down eating the seed. The Nyjer “Thistle” is sterilized, so there is no sprouting. In addition to the Goldfinches, I have a few Pine Siskins flocking with them. They like the Sunflower Chips and Nyjer “Thistle” too. Pine Siskins are in the finch family and are often seen with Goldfinches and many times they are in big flocks of their own. Usually they are found in the winter months here in the valley.

So don’t be surprised if you see Goldfinches in your garden…it’s very likely they are still out there, just less conspicuous with their “winter look.”