A group of Goldfinches is called a charm. The American goldfinch completes 2 full molts a year, and are one of the latest birds to breed, normally late June or early July. You can encourage them to nest in your yard by providing nesting material and food.
Goldfinches eat almost exclusively seeds. The parent birds come back to the nest, full of partially digested seeds - enough to feed the whole brood. Chicks are fed a lot, but only about twice an hour. The parents stay at feeders for a while, giving out enough for everybody. This makes a great opportunity to watch these flashy birds at length. The key to keeping Goldfinches around is having a year round supply of niger thistle or a mix of niger and fine chopped sunflower hearts. Niger, (called thistle seed), is not really thistle at all, so never fear a thistle invasion from Niger seed. Goldfinches love Niger for its high fat and protein content. Imported Niger has been heat treated, eliminating its ability to sprout. This should be provided in a bird feeder designed especially for Goldfinches, having very small openings. You'll attract more happy goldfinches if you take the time to empty the old birdseed out and mix it with the new and then refill. This prevents the seed in the bottom of the feeder tube from becoming compacted and damp, resulting in fewer birds coming to the feeder. Newer types of Goldfinch feeders allow you to fill from the bottom as well as the top on alternate fillings. Other goldfinch feeders are simply inexpensive thistle sacs, allowing you to have many economical feeders out, during warmer months when the birds are wearing the bright yellow plumage. Goldfinches are shy birds, tending to stay a bit apart and don't compete with other species. Also, in the fall, don't cut down old Marigold, Zinnia or other blooms having seed heads, which are great food for seed eating birds during the winter. Check out our tube feeders and thistle sacks on our Thistle and Tube Bird Feeder pages.
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