I have noticed questions about where the Goldfinches are now. They are the most common birds at the feeder, thanks to its wide range and ability to adapt. Sunflower and Niger seed are the mainstays of a goldfinches menu at the feeder, but they also enjoy other small seeds, such as millet. Weed seeds are a big attraction, which is a good thing to remember the next time you are upset at the dandelions or burdock, two of their favorites. They will eagerly devour the seeds of many garden flowers, eating from standing plants or from stems you have cut and laid in a feeder tray.
If cleanliness is next to godliness, then goldfinches must be saints. Goldfinches are inordinately fond of bird baths and other water features. Salt is another big lure for all goldfinches. If they aren’t at your feeder, or birdbath, they are apt to gather at your salt block. Goldfinches are so fond of lettuce seeds that they used to be called “lettuce birds”.
In your bird-friendly back yard, you can plant lettuce to attract not only Goldfinches, but also purple finches and more. Try planting a square area next to one of your feeders in lettuce. Any variety will do the trick, but leave lettuce matures faster that head lettuce. Be sure to plant your lettuce where you can see it. If you want to save seed from your lettuce to plant for next year just clip the seed stalks into a brown paper sack and store them in a dry place until you are ready to serve them to the birds. Lettuce seeds are surrounded by fluff, but there’s no need for you to clean the seeds if you feed your homegrown seeds in a tray feeder. They don’t mind the fluff.
I have let my lettuce go to seeds many times in the garden, sometimes because I neglect it, and usually the finches show right up. The finches have really been enjoying my Bachelor Buttons that have gone to seed in my wildflower garden. They are usually out there every morning. Other seeds they like are: Coneflower, Coreopsis, Cosmos, Goldenrod, Tickseed and Zinnia.
Goldfinches breed late in the summer, when the thistledown is available for their tightly woven nests. Their habitat is mostly farmland, weedy fields, (CRP), wherever you find the above seeds and thistle down.
Until next time, good bird watching.