Get tips on how to attract yellow finches to your backyard in the article below.
This step-by-step guide will teach you how to create the best finch habitat, what seeds they enjoy, which feeders they prefer, the best flowers and shrubs for their nests, and more.
About Yellow Finches
Yellow finches, often known as American Goldfinches, are a great addition to any backyard or garden.
It’s no surprise that many bird enthusiasts want to learn how to attract yellow finches to one’s backyard due to their beauty. Bird watchers seek out yellow finches due to their bright coloration.
Yellow finches have bright yellow feathers with black and white markings on their body.
The American goldfinch is native to North America and is most prevalent in the winter as it travels south. However, during the winter months, you’ll frequently find yellow finches at your feeders. It’s more convenient for them to grab seeds rather than seek out food in the winter.
Found year-round in certain areas, yellow finches are common birds in North America. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, they are generally easy to discover across most of North America, except in deeply wooded areas.
Goldfinches are finicky birds that may appear in your yard one day and then disappear the next.
This article gives you 13 simple strategies for attracting these colorful birds to your yard with photographs.
Find out how to attract goldfinches to your yard with plants and bird feeders that will give any backyard a chance!
If you have a hard time keeping finches interested, it’s a good idea to implement multiple solutions at once.
Attracting Yellow Finches
Attracting Goldfinches doesn’t have to be complicated. A few adjustments to your environment will give these beautiful birds the perfect place to visit. Many backyards are not suited for Goldfinches, as they usually have more grass than native flowers and shrubs. Naturally, these birds prefer to live in open, weeds-infested fields with bushes and shrubby boundaries that offer protection.
You have a better chance of bringing yellow finches to your property and garden by providing an attractive environment that includes plants and food favored by yellow finches.
There are a variety of plants that these birds enjoy. So, you don’t have to worry about not having the right environment. While it may take a few weeks or months to attract these vibrant, colorful birds, backyard birders who meet these requirements regularly will be rewarded with bright, beautiful splashes of yellow all year long.
We hope you find some helpful content in learning how to attract goldfinches to your backyard all year long!
Create An Ideal Yellow Finch Habitat To Attract Yellow Finches
Your primary goal is to design your backyard or garden to attract yellow finches no matter your location. Mainly, that entails planting as many of their favorite flowers, shrubs, and trees as possible.
One of my most valuable suggestions is to let a portion of your yard go unkept! Doing so will be preferred by a wide range of animals rather than having a well-maintained lawn. In reality, one of the most harmful activities for birds and other species is cultivating a grass monoculture rife with pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers.
The good news is that combining a variety of plants and the ones listed below attracts goldfinches and many other bird species!
1. Plant A Variety Of Shrubs And Trees To Encourage GoldFinch Nesting
Plant trees and bushes with many vertical branches for nesting. They like areas with 2 or 3 branching branches, as it creates a bowl large enough to support a new nest. Goldfinches prefer to nest in upright forks, where three or more twigs combine to form the ideal cup-shaped location.
These plants are perfect for yellow finches to build their nests near the top of the trunks. The shrubs and trees themselves are more significant for Yellow Finches.
Given the goldfinch’s habitat, it should come as no surprise that their nesting sites are shrubby. The goldfinch prefers to nest in shaded areas on low, dense shrubs or trees 3 to 10 feet from the ground. When nesting, they’ll utilize whatever is prevalent in their locations.
Finches create their nests in various locations, including Dogwoods, Elderberries, Buttonbushes, Hawthorns, Monterey pines, Willows, fruit trees, and even tall Thistles. They’ll nest in thistle plants with the proper structure.
Goldfinches like to nest in high trees, shaded areas, and low, dense bushes. They are mostly covered by a canopy of leaves or needles above, but they may also be seen from the ground. A cluster of leaves or needles can conceal them from view.
Goldfinches use a variety of plants for cover, before or after nesting season. They like low, dense evergreens, in particular, in the winter.
Keep an eye out for plants that resemble these. You may be able to see finches without having these plants on your property. Large and remote areas with a lot of sunshine are the ideal locations.
Here are some plants that might be used as food sources, nesting materials, or shelters:
FLOWERS & GRASS:
- Black-eyed Susans
- Joe Pye Weed
- A wide variety of native grasses
TREES AND SHRUBS:
- Birch trees
- Elm trees
- Alder trees
- Low, dense evergreens in winter
In the second half of the year, the females build nests and mate from June through August using thistle.
Goldfinches are not cavity-nesting birds, so finches will not use birdhouses for nesting. So by providing protected shelter is the first step in providing a secure and safe environment for them to raise their young.
If you want to raise goldfinch chicks, make sure they have a safe and secure environment. Also, leave the nesting materials in place and protected until summer. Downy plants like thistles and dandelions might be used to provide natural cotton supplements, giving your nest a more natural appearance.
Plants Goldfinches Use to Build Nests
Female goldfinches line their nests with a variety of materials, including thistles. Other possibilities include milkweed, cattails, dandelions, willow catkins, and cottonwood fluff. Females will use whatever they can utilize for their nests.
It’s part of what makes the birds so fascinating: they’re incredibly flexible in their surroundings. Burdock is one of the few plants that goldfinches may not use as they can get tangled in the burrs of the plant and die.
2. Use Vibrant Colored Ribbons And Plants
Birds have an exceptional color sensitivity, and they are drawn to bright colors that aren’t commonly seen in nature.
Adding a colorful ribbon to the feeder will entice finches. The movement from the ribbon in the wind may lead them to believe that another bird has already checked out the new feeder and deemed it secure.
Since most birds find ribbons appealing, you must strategically install them around visible features such as poles, trees, and feeders.
Hang brightly colored ribbon near your feeders to help guide finches in the right direction. With this technique, you will be able to attract multiple yellow finches.
You may also incorporate bright and blooming plant species in your yard, making it easier for birds on the go to find your finch-friendly backyard or garden. Grow Vibrant plants to serve as a visual cue and provide natural food sources.
Some people claim that yellow flowers are effective. While they may attract finches, birds have keen eyesight to detect any bright color.
The brilliant colors of other flowers, such as dandelions, cosmos, marigolds, poppies, and zinnias, attract yellow finches.
3. Plant Seed Bearing Plants To Attract Goldfinches
Another excellent tip is to plant various seed-bearing plants to entice goldfinches to your yard. Goldfinches enjoy flower seeds, as well as shrubs, grasses, and weeds. Finches are drawn to your yard by the blooming of colorful flowers and the formation of seeds on plants.
Goldfinches are the most committed vegetarians in the bird world. While occasionally swallowing a bug, they rely entirely on a vegetarian diet. Goldfinches don’t feed their young insects, unlike other songbirds. Hatchlings instead are fed regurgitated seeds.
Thistle is a great choice; they adore thistles! But, be sure it’s a native thistle since some species have been known to become invasive. The American Goldfinch loves the seeds from thistle plants. You will attract many yellow finches if you have these planted in abundance around your yard and garden.
Best Plants To Attract Goldfinches
Natural seed-bearing plants such as sunflowers, black-eyed Susans, purple coneflowers, asters, cosmos, daisies, cottonwood fluff, milkweed, cattails, poppies, marigold, and zinnias are some of the most popular flowers in gardens to attract finches.
Although yellow finches diet consists of almost entirely seeds, they will occasionally enjoy bark from young twigs, fresh tree buds, and maple sap.
Yellow Finches are attracted to trees such as the Western Red Ceder, Elm, Birch, and Alder Trees.
To attract more yellow finches to your yard, plant bright seed-bearing plants around the perimeter of your backyard and garden.
Avoid using herbicides or other chemical treatments to eliminate natural food sources for yellow finches. Once blooms begin to fade, don’t deadhead these flowers. Instead, let your plants reseed themselves, which will save money and time by not having to provide as much birdseed to feed a flock of finches.
Finches consume seeds from marigold, zinnia, and other similar flowers after their blooms die.
A simple tip is to plant yellow flowers close to your feeders to give your backyard a significant advantage over attracting finches.
Burdock is one of the plants to AVOID. Its seeds will draw goldfinches, but they can become caught and trapped in the burrs and unable to escape.
The more methods you can combine at once, the greater chance you will attract yellow finches to your backyard!
4. Fresh Seed: Yellow Finches Are Known For Not Finishing Their Food
Finches will only consume fresh seeds, which is crucial in attracting yellow finches.
Yellow Finches don’t like old, dried-out seeds, this may seem obvious for most bird lovers, but goldfinches can be picky about their seed.
Finches are known for only emptying half of a feeder and leaving the rest of the seeds until the bird feeder is refilled. You must first remove any old seeds before adding new ones.
If the seed is still there, remove it and assess whether the remaining seed is still fresh. If the seed is still viable, fill the bottom half of the feeder with new seed and lay the remainder on top. Doing so will ensure that finicky finches receive fresh seed without much waste.
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Check the birdseed regularly for signs of spoilage. To keep yellow finch seeds viable, use baffles to keep the seeds fresh and dry. You can also invest in feeders that offer air circulation and a percentage of seeds from molding.
Nyjer and Sunflower Seeds
They are incredibly picky about Thistle, commonly known as Nyjer seed. If your nyjer seed is a dark black and nice and oily, it is still fresh.
However, nyjer seed can dry out quite quickly. It turns into a dark brown color when it dries out and loses most of its oils. As the Nyjer seed dries out, it loses its nutrition, and finches can tell the difference.
Tips For Buying Thistle Seed
- Purchase a bag where you can see the seed. Examine the seeds for a lot of brown, dry, or dusty seeds. If it’s been sitting for too long, it might have dried out. Also, Nyjer is heat-treated before being offered for sale to help prevent seeds from germinating and becoming an infestation of weeds. If the seed was overheated it could cause the Nyjer to dry out as well.
- Start by buying a tiny bag of seed. After you’ve figured out how often you use the seed, you may move on to purchasing bigger bags. This method ensures that you don’t have large bags of seed in your garage for months, becoming dry and unuseable. Purchase seeds in tiny quantities, up to 2-3 lbs at a time. The seeds keep for up to a couple of months. DO NOT buy thistle in bulk, as most are outdated thistle stores are trying to get rid of.
- Don’t put out too much seed at once. Fill your feeder just half to three-quarters full. Or you can use a feeder with a long, thin tube that doesn’t hold much at once rather than one with a large capacity.
Yellow Finches are fond of Nyjer and Sunflower Seeds. With their smaller beaks, these seeds are high in oil and simple to consume.
Fill your feeder with thistle seeds, a finches favorite food. Thistle seeds are the most popular food source for attracting yellow finches to feeders, often known as niger or nyjer seeds.
Nyjer is excellent because fewer birds consume Nyjer seed. Chickadees, doves, and finches are among the birds that will consume Nyjer seed. Even squirrels won’t touch it.
You can mix other seeds into your finch feeders to supplement your finches. Goldfinches also enjoy black oil sunflower seeds, along with hulled seeds from a variety of sunflowers.
Yellow Finches also enjoy seeds from dandelions, goldenrod, and many other plants.
Other low-cost foods to fill a bag of thistle seeds include flax and millet. Finches have tiny beaks that cannot break open hard shells, so choose seeds wisely. Get sunflower or safflower seeds with the husks removed if you decide to use them.
Use about 75 percent thistle in your seed mix. This will keep squirrels and other birds away from the remaining components using this ratio.
Store-bought finch seed mixes contain thistle seeds blended with sunflower chips, may also include ingredients such as flaxseed and millet.
Goldfinches will also feed on the ground near feeders, consuming fallen seeds.
5. Provide Fresh Black Seed
Although, finches enjoy a variety of seeds they especially love black-colored seeds. Dull-colored seeds do not appeal to finches as well; it’s a must to purchase fresh black-colored seeds when feeding finches black seeds. If the seed is brown or, old-looking finches will avoid it.
Yellow Finch’s favorite combination is sunflower seeds and Nyjer seeds, high in oil and simple to gather with little beaks.
If you want to attract yellow finches all year, we recommend feeding them a seed combination like the one listed above each day in your finch feeders. Check your black seed for dried-out seeds or mold regularly.
You’ll find sunflower chips and kernels, millet, and Nyjer are in the finches’ diet. Finch’s beaks are tiny, so you’ll want to use hulled sunflower chips and kernels.
Since thistle seed dries out quickly, you can store fresh Thistle in the freezer until you are ready to use or only buy it on an as-needed basis for your finch feeders.
A quick way to tell if your black seed is dried out is by pinching it with your fingernail. If oil doesn’t come out when you do, your yellow finches will not eat it. They are picky eaters and will avoid your feeders with dried-out seeds.
6. Try Black Oil Sunflower Seed
Yellow finches love black oil sunflower seed as well. Since it’s high in fat content, it makes a healthy source of nutrition for finches. Since it is a larger size seed, it won’t fit into your thistle feeders. However, numerous feeders allow you to offer sunflower seeds. Many birds enjoy sunflower seed, so you will more than likely attract various bird species.
Black oil sunflower seed works well with a tube feeder to feed goldfinches. You can use something as simple as a staggered perch bird feeder.
Add a variety of thistle and sunflower feeders to ensure your finches have a variety to choose from when they visit your backyard or garden.
Also, try planting sunflowers around the perimeter of your garden. You will lure them right into your backyard. Since they enjoy the sunflower seeds so much, you can grow some extra for them to eat when they visit your Thistle feeders.
Sunflowers are not only good to attract yellow finches to your backyard; you will also benefit by enjoying quite a few bird species who love sunflowers.
7. Use Specific Finch Bird Feeders To Attract Yellow Finches
A bird feeder is an EASY way to convert your home into a sought-after bird’s hangout spot. The Yellow Finch is a highly adaptable species that will eat almost any type of feeder, including hopper, platform, and hanging feeders. Goldfinches aren’t picky if the feeders move in the wind.
Goldfinches are adaptable, but specific feeders may put your yard at a more significant advantage when attracting goldfinches. Such as feeder tubes, socks, and finch stations are some of the best methods to encourage yellow finches to visit your yard. The finch feeders are made to allow finches to eat conveniently.
Perching is made easy for these lively birds by mesh-style feeders or feeding socks, which allow them to sit in various positions. On the other hand, the sock is the simplest since finches can easily get to the seeds within.
A thistle seed sock is a must-have for bird enthusiasts since finches may effortlessly hang from them and extract the seeds.
We recommend tube feeders since they prevent larger species, such as Red-winged Blackbirds, Blue Jays, and other aggressive birds, from attaching and feeding. If you don’t want to keep special food on hand, a small tube feeder may be preferable to the standard one.
The sunflower seed hearts or chips, as well as Nyjer provided by feeders, will appeal to these birds.
An easy, practical tip is to combine a nyjer or sunflower feeder with bright-colored flowers to increase your chances of attracting goldfinches.
Nyjer feeders, which have small perches and a feeding tray covered in tiny holes that dispense thistle seed, can attract goldfinches. Only small “thistle” seeds can pass through, and only little beak-end birds may reach in and get food from the feeder, such as finches!
A tray feeder is an excellent alternative for finches.
Because these are sociable birds that feed in groups, using a variety of feeders rather than one large feeder will attract numerous more birds to your home and keep them close.
By using one of the finch feeders listed above, they’ll be quick to come feeding!
8. Location Of The Feeder: Place Feeders Where Finches Feel Safe
Goldfinches may be wary of backyard feeders. Having a feed out in the open makes yellow finches feel vulnerable to predators. Placing finch feeders near a shrub or tree helps finches feel safe and encourage them to explore a new feeder. Once a feeder is discovered, you can move it further away from trees or shrubs to keep squirrels from jumping on it.
Many birds prefer their feeds to be higher than head height. However, for finches, just by having their feeders near a shrub or tree, already have a higher chance of attracting yellow finches to your backyard.
If your yard has an open field nearby, you can place your finch feeders in areas where they would commonly dwell. A good rule of thumb is to never place feeders deep into a forest. Just place the feeders in areas where they can be seen from the forest edge.
If you have a dogwood, elderberry, buttonbush, hawthorn in your yard, then you might want to place some finch feeders at that location. Goldfinches often nest in these types of trees, and they will be more comfortable feeding near.
9. Temporarily Remove Old Feeders To Attract Yellow Finches To New Feeders
Birds, in general, are creatures of habit; this means that it may take them days or sometimes weeks before exploring a new feeder. Temporarily removing older feeders in the area encourages finches to explore outside of their usual routine and explore the new feeder. If there are new objects in the yard that they aren’t used to, they may need to warm up to it first before feeding.
When you install a new feeder in your backyard or garden, it’s important to remember that you’re forming a new behavior. This small change itself may take time for finches to adapt to.
You’ll have to take the old feeders away for a while to warm up finches to the new object in their area to allow them to eat from the new feeder.
10. Clean Feeders Regularly
Finches dislike filthy feeders and will avoid one if it is moldy or unclean. Seed may become clumpy when it rains, and the birds will be unable to extract seeds from the feeder. Adding a weather guard to your feeder can prevent the seeds from getting damp and clumping.
Clean feeders regularly to ensure healthy birds and to attract hungry finches. Feeders that are dirty and unkempt will repeal finches as they are picky birds that only like fresh seed.
Make sure the food in the feeder is always fresh and clean and not moldy. Also, regularly give the feeder a good shake to keep the food dry and loose inside. It’s best not to allow uneaten seed inside the feeder to remain longer than a few weeks.
To minimize the hazards of diseases for finches that forage around other birds like doves and sparrows or on the ground, you must regularly remove spilled seeds beneath the feeders.
- Deep-clean feeders twice a month with water and bleach to ensure a healthy feeding space. Dilute 1 part liquid bleach in 9 parts clean water. Remove seeds from the feeder and rinse. Soak the feeder in the mixture and scrub off any debris with a bottle brush. After that, drain the feeder and dry it with a paper towel. Allow it to dry in the sun to eliminate any germs. To avoid bacteria and mold feeders need to be cleaned every 2 weeks or more. During rainy seasons or when there are salmonella reports in your region, you’ll need to clean your bird feeders more frequently.
- Cleaning feeders using liquid dish soap won’t remove mold, but it will assist in cleaning the feeders. Bleach is more successful at sterilizing feeders.
11. Provide A Bird Bath: A Water Source Is Essential
Add a birdbath to your yard for freshwater.
Water is by far the most crucial environmental element for birds. Since finches are always on the go, providing a moving water source is vital, such as a birdbath. Finches visit throughout the year, so it’s critical to have a water source that doesn’t freeze.
Therefore, some migrate, you must offer them a water supply during their journey or as a welcome source once they have arrived at their goal after a long trip.
Add a birdbath with a mister or dripper to the mix for goldfinches, who adore bathing. A bath or a fountain that finches regularly use increases the likelihood of attracting more yellow finches.
Yellow finches prefer to breed near waterways that offer drinking and bathing water. Get a standing bath or fountain with circulating water to enhance your chances of attracting finches to the region. If possible, place it near trees and flowers that attract finches.
If it’s possible, create a finch habitat near a water source such as a river or stream to ensure that the birds have access to fresh water at all times.
12. Weeds On Bird Feeders
The finches aren’t always interested in feeders as a source of food. Second, some species of birds may not be able to spot the feeder as an active feeding station. Try planting natural weeds or thistles and dandelions in the open holes to attract their attention to your feeders.
When birders replace old feeders with new ones in their garden or backyard, many birds may fail to recognize them as a source of food and, in most cases. Sticks will encourage them to search and discover the food inside the feeder by adding dandelions and Thistle since they associate them with natural food sources.
By adding natural weeds to finch feeders, they will learn how to recognize these feeders as a food source with time. After that, you can remove weeds and continue using your finch feeders normally.
13. Perching Sticks
Goldfinches travel in groups and wait for each other to feed first. To allow them to add a perch or a stick to provide a comfortable space for them to stay while other finches finish.
Perching sticks or branches are beneficial for birds’ feet. It provides them with something sturdy to grasp on. Before adding a branch, it is best to clean it thoroughly before any finches use it.
Anytime you introduce a new object to wild birds, always thoroughly clean and disinfect them before use. Before use, you can use hot water to disinfect or kill any remaining germs to clean surfaces.
You can also use a mixture of bleach and water, about 1 part bleach to 9 parts water, to disinfect any object for birds.
A great way to add a perching branch is by adding a potted plant to the garden. A perching branch will provide them with something natural to sit on while waiting.
A potted plant provides a sense of home and comfort for them to sit on. The perch will allow them to feel like they’re in their natural habitat while waiting for other finches to finish eating.
You can also put up two perching sticks or branches next to each other they don’t need as much space to land instead of finding a separate space.
Potted plants – The perching branch provides a sense of home and comfort for them to sit on while waiting.
Perch – It provides a space where finches can wait for other birds to finish eating before flying off themselves without having to travel far distances from each other to find their own space.
Two perching branches or sticks next to each other – They don’t need as much space to land on, and it is more comfortable for them.
Fastened branches/sticks to trees create a comfortable and sturdy perching spot in one place without traveling long distances.
To summarize, the more of these strategies you can use at once, the higher your chances of attracting goldfinches to your yard.
By following these easy steps, everyone can have yellow finches in their backyard.
- Temp with fresh black seeds
- Create a finch habitat
- Plant colorful food sources and seed bearing plants
- Provide freshwater year-round
- Install perching stations
- Use convenient specific finch feeders
- Regularly clean feeders twice a month
- Temporarily remove old feeders
- Put weeds and sticks on finch feeders
- Put feeders in a safe location
- Supplement with black oil sunflower seeds
- Use colorful ribbons
- Encourage nesting
You don’t have to be an expert in bird watching to attract yellow finches. They are relatively easy to attract once you figure out how these finicky colorful birds work.