How To Attract Goldfinches

September 8, 2023 // 14 minutes read // 2 Shares

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How To Attract Goldfinches

Do you want to learn how to attract goldfinches to your backyard or garden? It may seem difficult on the surface if you aren’t in possession of the best information. Today, you’ll learn the best tips and techniques to attract these beautiful birds to your property.

Attract goldfinches with these tips. Their favorite bird feeders include tube feeders, hoppers, and platform feeders. They love Nyjer seed and eat shelled sunflower seeds and black oil sunflower seeds. Add a birdbath with fresh water, thistle and sunflowers, and keep the seeds fresh and water clean.

I just shared some of the many effective ways to attract American goldfinches to your property, outdoor backyard, front garden, and more. Next, I’d like to go into greater detail focusing on the following topics:

  • Flowers that goldfinches find most attractive
  • Plants that goldfinches find most attractive
  • Their favorite types of food
  • Their favorite types of bird feeders
  • How to attract goldfinches during each season
  • and more

If you’ve struggled to attract these beautiful birds to your backyard thus far, please take these tips to art and use them to improve your chances.

Goldfinch bird
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Flowers That Attract Goldfinches

Goldfinches absolutely love flowers and a wide variety of natural plant sources as well. If you’re going to attract goldfinches to your backyard, make sure you provide them with their favorite fresh flowers to really pique their interest.

When you add these flowers to your backyard, make sure to keep them in their natural state. You do not want to spray them with fertilizer, fungicides, or pesticides. These unhealthy chemicals could be very harmful to the health of the beautiful American goldfinches that you’re trying to view from the comfort of your own home. 

Even better, certain flowers also double as an additional food source to feed the hungry goldfinches that will eventually grace your property in the near future. Remember to keep them on hand, because Nyjer seed goes bad quickly and they may need something to eat before you have another chance to refill your backyard bird feeders.

Before I share my list of favorite flowers, please note that their all-time favorite flower is the thistle. These birds love thistles because they produce downy seeds, which they can certainly use as a tasty food source. During nesting season, these flowers also provide nesting material for their youngsters as well as a tasty treat.

Wild Thistle
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According to wxpr.com, “These birds rely so heavily on thistles, it is thought, that they time their nesting when the thistles produce their downy seed to provide nesting material and food for themselves and their young.”

Favorite flowers of goldfinches include:

  • Thistles
  • Sunflowers
  • Coneflowers
  • Asters
  • Black Eyed Susans
  • Dandelions
Black Eye Susans
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Before moving on, I’d like to share one more important tidbit about thistles. These flowers actually produce an incredibly sweet nectar and their pollen is packed with nutrients. With that in mind, besides attracting American goldfinches to your backyard, you’re also going to attract butterflies, bees, and other pollinators that are incredibly attracted to this flower.

Plants That Attract Goldfinches

It shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that goldfinches are also attracted to specific plants for various reasons. My all-time favorite plan for attracting goldfinches is named the thistle.

Why is it so effective? It’s funny that they love this plant so much because it looks like a long and brown prickly stick. But this plant also has the unique ability to attract insects. The moths, butterflies, and bees are really in love with the teasel.

According to rsbp.org.uk, “for goldfinches, teasels come into their own in autumn and winter when the seed heads dry out. The goldfinches’ thin beaks are ideally suited for tweezer during the tiny seeds from between the spikes.”

As you can imagine, these tasty seeds are incredibly attractive to goldfinches. Plus, these plans stand tall and they are quite noticeable. Every garden should create a space for teasels.

But by no means is the teasel the only plant that goldfinches find attractive. In fact, they like a wide variety of plants.

Favorite plants of goldfinches include:

  • Milkweed
  • Native grasses
  • Joe Pye weed
  • Conifers
  • Pines
  • Hemlock

Basically, the American Goldfinch truly adores any plan that can produce small seeds. These seeds are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Plus, they like to use the downy fibers produced by these plants to line their nests.

Food That Attract Goldfinches

Thistle Seed For Goldfinches
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Goldfinches will eat just about any seed as long as it’s small. And this is a good thing for anyone trying to attract them to their backyard. You can set up bird feeders, which they also have to be big fans of, and fill them with their favorite small seeds.

What seeds do they love the most? They love thistle seeds more than any other. When you purchase them from your favorite online retailer, you will buy them as Nyjer seeds. Nyjer and thistle are the same thing.

They also really love sunflower seeds. In particular, their favorites seem to be shelled sunflower seeds and black oil sunflower seeds.

Their diet is mostly made up of seeds, but they will occasionally eat other food sources that are more native to the wild. They like to eat the bark off of young twigs. They enjoy maple sap and fresh tree buds as well.

If you’re trying to encourage American goldfinches to visit you in your backyard, it’s best to have their favorite trees on hand including alder trees, birch trees, elm trees, and western red cedar trees. If they see these trees in your backyard, you can bet they’ll stop by in the summer to enjoy a tasty treat for lunch.

Lastly, American goldfinches will also add small insects to their diets on occasion. They aren’t going to eat insects for the majority of their diet, but when they do they like to devour caterpillars, aphids, and beetles.

Favorite food and seeds that attract goldfinches:

  • Nyjer Seeds (Thistle)
  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Sunflower Chips
  • Shelled Sunflower Seeds

Why do American goldfinches seem to gravitate toward thistle (Nyjer) seeds and so much? They are a great food source because they contain lots of calories, which helps keep their bellies full during the winter. They also have a plentiful supply of fiber, fat, and protein and an excellent ratio that is very healthy for goldfinches and other songbirds.

Best Bird Feeders For Attracting Goldfinches

It’s easy to attract goldfinches to your property if you have the right bird feeders on hand. Tiny goldfinches love to eat out of tube feeders. You can also get them to eat out of Hopper feeders and platform feeders when they are on the larger side, but bigger birds tend to crowd out the small goldfinches.

Regardless of which birdfeeder you have in your backyard right now, to attract goldfinches you definitely need to install the best options. My top 3 favorite bird feeders for attracting goldfinches include the following:

  1. Tube Feeders
  2. Hopper Feeders
  3. Platform Feeders

We’ll look at each of these feeders in greater detail below.

Tube Feeders: The Preferred Bird Feeder for Goldfinches

I particularly prefer using tube feeders because they are the ideal options for goldfinches of every variety.

How so?

For starters, these feeders are a great choice because they hold a plentiful supply of seeds. If you get a large enough tube feeder, you can fit up to 3 pounds of Nyjer, black oil sunflower seeds, or shelled sunflower seeds. You can mix them up or give each seed its own tube.

These tubes are incredibly beneficial. In fact, backyardbirdpros.com says, “tube feeders have several advantages over other feeders. First, the tube itself is pretty good at protecting the seed from rain or snow so that it won’t spoil quickly. Second, they are effective at keeping larger birds, like jays and grackles, away so that smaller birds can have a relatively safe place to feed.”

In my estimation, the second benefit of using tube feeders is the main reason why you should fill them with thistle and sunflower seeds in your backyard to attract goldfinches. They are great feeders because they keep the large bully birds away that tend to crowd out the smaller songbirds and prevent them from getting tasty seeds and other treats.

Hopper Feeders: An Excellent Backup Feeder Choice for Goldfinches

Hopper bird feeders are also a great choice for attracting goldfinches. It’s a good option because it looks like a small house, and when you hang it up you can fill it with a large amount of bird seeds. These seeds will feed the hungry goldfinches prowling around your backyard looking for a tasty treat.

I particularly like this birdfeeder specifically because of the large amount of food that you can fit inside the house or hopper. This means you’ll have plenty of food available for the goldfinches and other songbirds including song sparrows, purple finches, indigo buntings, house finches, pine siskins, wild birds, and finicky finches too.

On the other hand, it isn’t specifically designed for bigger birds. So, the large birds that could aggressively attempt to eat up all of the small bird seeds are kept at bay with a bird feeder such as this one. This feeding station will make it possible for blue jays, the lesser goldfinch, and the pine siskin to be properly fed without being attacked by large birds or bigger birds.

The main benefits of using hopper feeders include:

  • They are easy to clean
  • They are easy to maintain
  • They hold a large amount of food
  • They do not need to be refilled every day

On the downside, some negatives about these feeders include:

  • They attract larger birds
  • They attract undesirable visitors including raccoons, squirrels, and rats

All in all, the hopper feeder is a good choice if you’re looking to feed three species of goldfinches and other songbirds. But they certainly have their downsides and occasionally attract unwanted visitors.

Platform Feeders: An Alternative Goldfinch Feeder to Use in a Pinch

Personally, if I was attempting to attract purple goldfinches, American goldfinches, and other species to my backyard, I likely wouldn’t use a platform feeder as my feeding mechanism of choice.

Why recommend it at all?

It’s a good option to use in a pinch. Let’s say your tube feeder accidentally slips out of your hands and cracks open on the ground when you take it down to clean it one day. You aren’t going to have a chance to order a new one online right away, but you’d still like to feed the goldfinches that hang around your backyard.

In this case, if you have a platform feeder on hand, I would highly recommend filling it with the preferred bird seeds of goldfinches including Nyjer seeds, shelled sunflower seeds, and black oil sunflower seeds to be specific.

The only problem is that larger birds that also visit your backyard will make it very difficult for the smaller songbirds to eat from the platform feeder. The small songbirds will begin to eat, but the larger birds will fly over, crowd them out, and make it very difficult for them to get a healthy amount of seeds.

It isn’t impossible and it’s a decent alternative to use in a pinch. But it’s definitely not my preferred choice for finches as I’ve mentioned more than once.

Attracting Goldfinches: Data Table

American GoldfinchHow to Attract Goldfinches
Attractive PlantsTeasel, milkweed, Joe Pye weed, variety of native grasses
Attractive FlowersThistles, sunflowers, black-eyed susans, asters, coneflowers
Water SourcesBirdbath, water dish, pond
Favorite FoodsNyjer seed, sunflower chips, shelled sunflower seeds, black oil sunflower seeds
Best Bird FeedersTube feeders, large hopper feeders, large platform feeders
Backyard/Garden ConditionsClean feeders, clean birdbaths, open space, fields, meadows, foliage growth
Attractive Trees/ShrubsAlder trees, Birch, trees, Elm trees, Evergreens, Dogwood, Hawthorn, Buttonbush, Redbud, Elderberry

Tips For Attracting Goldfinches By Season

Trees in the fall
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Are you trying to attract goldfinches during a particular season? Maybe your goal is to make sure they do not go hungry during the cold winter months. Or maybe you love looking at these beautiful finches in your backyard during the summer time, so you’ll do everything to get them to visit you during this life-affirming time of year.

No matter the reasons, it’s definitely possible to attract these birds to your yard no matter what season it happens to be.

I’ll share my favorite tips below.

How To Attract Goldfinches In The Spring

It’s very easy to attract goldfinches to your yard during the spring. Everything is in bloom and the weather is warming up, so they enjoy the spring renewal just as much as you do.

To get goldfinches to visit you during the spring, please consider implementing the following suggestions:

  • Add tube bird feeders to your backyard
  • Fill your bird feeders with Nyjer seeds
  • Provide a fresh water source
  • Clean bird feeders and birdbaths regularly
  • Grow Alder, Birch, and Elm trees in your yard

How To Attract Goldfinches In The Summer

Attracting finches to your backyard during the summer is very similar to the way you attract during the spring.

The following suggestions are the best things to implement to attract these majestic birds to your property:

  • Feed them their favorite foods including Nyjer seeds, black oil sunflower seeds, sunflower chips, and shelled sunflower seeds
  • Grow their favorite flowers in your backyard including sunflowers, thistles, coneflowers, asters, and black-eyed Susans
  • Use tube feeders to keep bigger birds and other backyard bird threats away from the small seeds that are best for songbirds
  • Keep the backyard conditions in good shape by providing open spaces including fields and meadows, foliage growth, and clean bird feeders and bird baths
  • If you do not have access to tube feeders for whatever reason, consider installing large hopper feeders in their place. They hold lots of seeds and also keep them protected from larger birds and other predators

How To Attract Goldfinches In The Fall

Since these finches aren’t migratory birds, they will need access to food, water, and shelter. These birds aren’t considered cavity nesters, so they aren’t likely to use a birdhouse. You can avoid putting up bird houses in your backyard unless you feel so inclined.

On the other hand, it’s definitely in your best interest to grow attractive plants that also double as food sources for these great birds. My favorite plants to grow in my yard specifically for goldfinches include:

  • Native grasses
  • Joe Pye weed
  • Milkweed
  • Teasel

By having these plants available during the fall, the songbirds can use their sharp beaks to pull out the tiny seeds and grass seeds that are available in plentiful supply.

It’s always best to provide a source of freshwater, whether it’s in a pond, a bird bath, or simply made available in some kind of a bowl or dish. Also, it would be a big benefit to these birds if you hung tube feeders filled with their favorite seeds that have been mentioned numerous times throughout this article.

How To Attract Goldfinches In The Winter

Taking care of goldfinches during the winter is of the utmost importance. The best thing to do is provide them with ample amounts of birdseed during the cold and desolate winter months.

Remember, if you live in an area that gets a lot of freezing weather and snow, there aren’t going to be any plants or foliage for these birds to eat. They will absolutely need your help and they will need you to provide lots of fresh Nyjer seeds and all varieties of sunflower seeds, because they absolutely love these nutrient packed seeds the most.

Here’s another thing to consider:

Please provide these birds with a fresh source of water. It’s important that you provide the water in a heated birdbath. Why? Any other birdbath will eventually freeze over once the temperature drops. And then the water will become frozen, which will make it impossible for the goldfinches to drink from it or clean themselves with this water source.

Lastly, I’ll just remind you again to provide a healthy dose of fresh seeds and clean, fresh, unfrozen water. And while you’re at it, remember to keep the bird baths and feeders clean to prevent mold or mildew growth.

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