For those in search of gold (finches), Nyjer seed is the best bait!
American Goldfinches live year ‘round in the Portland area, though they are nomadic and may not always be seen at the same feeders. In summer, males are bright, canary yellow with black caps, females a duller olive. In winter, their color fades to brown or gray, though males may still show black on the forehead. Their preferred habitat is weedy, open fields with few trees. Goldfinches can find lots of seeds naturally, but they love this imported seed because of its high oil content. They’ll descend in flocks to nyjer feeders!
Nyjer is a small, thin black seed, similar in shape (though smaller than) rice. Special feeders and sacks with small openings are used to offer nyjer to goldfinches, House Finches and Pine Siskins. Feeders are most successful when placed around 15 feet away from other feeders. This placement gives the goldfinches, who are less aggressive than the larger birds, a feeder they can frequent without being harassed! Nyjer is best delivered straight, though some mix fine sunflower chips in with the nyjer. Goldfinches will eat fine sunflower chips, but nyjer is their favorite. An added bonus: squirrels are not interested in nyjer. They will usually go elsewhere of you are feeding “straight” nyjer in your feeder.
Nyjer is imported from Ethiopia and India, and is different from our domestic thistle. As far as goldfinches are concerned, it’s a great substitute for thistle! The Department of Agriculture requires that nyjer be heat sterilized as it enters the country, so it will not sprout in your yard.