Want American Goldfinches in your yard? You’ve got to treat them right! These beautiful little birds will eat sunflower seed like many other backyard birds, but their favorite food is Nyjer seed (also sometimes known as “Thistle” even though it really isn’t.) To serve up Nyjer to Goldfinches, you need the right feeders. The feeders I use are Aspects Quick-Clean Nyjer Feeders. I’ve got three and I like them very much.
These feeders seem well made. I’ve purchased three over the course of the last eight months and they’ve performed beautifully, through the heat of summer and the cold of winter, through rain and through snow. It’s definitely a feeder I would purchase again, and in fact, these feeders are so very popular with the birds that I’m thinking about getting a fourth.
Like many tube feeders, the main part of this feeder is a clear plastic tube. The tube is pierced with very thin slots with perches just below each one. When you look at these slots, it’s hard not to think that birds would never be able to access such tiny little slits, but Goldfinch beaks seem to have no problem with them. The thin slots are an advantage in bad weather because there is less of an opening for water to get into them. (Although you should check, giving the feeders a shake, after heavy rain just to be sure that no damp has gotten in to cake the seed.)
The plastic tube is topped off with a metal cap that slides on a U-shaped metal hanging loop. To fill the feeder, you take it down from where it is hanging, slide the metal cap up along the hanger loop, and pivot it aside so you can pour more seed into the top. It’s quick and easy.
The base that fits on the bottom of the tube is a plastic and metal combination. The plastic portion on top fits up inside the tube and is angled like an upside down dimensional V to deflect the seed so it doesn’t get trapped in the bottom to get old and moldy. The metal portion of this base has two black plastic buttons that you push in when you want to slide the bottom on or off the feeder to clean it. When you push these buttons in, little black tabs near them retract from holes in the tube so you can remove the base. The feeder opens very easily this way. I only once had a slight problem once in all the months I’ve had these when one button got wet and then froze and so it wouldn’t push in. A quick ten-second warming with a hairdryer took care of that.
You could alternatively flip the feeder over and fill it with seed from the bottom by taking off the base in this way, although if you do this, be sure to push the top looping hanger down to the cap and hold the cap on when you turn it upside down so it doesn’t pop off and spill seed.
If you purchase one of these feeders (or any new feeder really), it is important to realize that it may take the birds a few weeks to find your feeder, especially a feeder like this that appeals to a very specific type of bird. I bought my first one in early June and it hung there unloved for a week or more. I tried moving it to a new location and waited. Still no Goldfinches. Then I tried a third location and purchased fresh Nyjer in case what I had was stale. Nothing.
What turned the tide was a couple of Goldfinches who were attracted to my yard by my flower garden. They especially liked my zinnias and some sunflowers that had planted themselves with dropped seed. Once I saw that first pair of Goldfinches in the yard, I created a trail to lead them around the corner of the house to where the Nyjer feeder hung: I put up an inexpensive Nyjer sock feeder I had used before on the little tree next to the flower garden and another at the corner of the house, each with a yellow ribbon tied to it. The Goldfinches found the first sock feeder when they returned the next day and the second on the following day and then they found the tube feeder around the corner, told all their friends and my yard has been overrun with tiny little Goldfinches ever since!
If it is winter and you have not seen any Goldfinches nor have a garden to attract them, you can still get Goldfinch visitors if they winter in your area. Keep in mind that birds will often move around when the weather is bad, particularly with snow storms, and you’ll often see new birds in the yard at these times. Be patient and provide fresh food to entice them on a cold grey day.
You might wonder why you couldn’t just use the sock type feeders and skip the tube feeders. You can, and this is how I started with feeding Goldfinches, but they are very exposed to the elements. During periods where you have a lot of snow or rain, the seed can easily become wet and in cold or humid weather especially, the seed doesn’t dry out and can go bad. Trying to keep fresh dry seed in these sock feeders can be surprisingly challenging and in the end, you waste a lot of seed. Used every day for months, the socks will get worn, dirty and start leaking seed. I only pull out the sock feeders when the Goldfinches are in an eating frenzy before a storm and need more feeder space. Most of the time just the tube feeders are up.
Currently I have three of these Aspects Nyjer tube feeders. Two are the large size that will seat ten birds and the third is the medium size that will set eight. There is also a small size for six birds. The prices for the various sizes are fairly close and Goldfinches tend to travel in a flock, so personally, I’d go for the large size for just a few dollars more, to be able to seat a few more birds.
They have the loop hanger on top, so you could potentially loop it over a short tree limb or the arm on a pole, but a hook (short or long, depending on how long you need it to reach the branch) makes things easier. (You can buy hooks at bird stores, on Amazon, or even in some well-stocked home improvement store bird feeding sections.)
Aspects also makes trays to add to the bottom of these feeders, but I haven’t tried them myself. And they offer domes to protect the tube feeders from rain or snow. I haven’t used these either. One nice thing about Nyjer though is that squirrels aren’t impressed with it, so these feeders don’t really need a squirrel baffle and can simply be hung from a tree limb.
I’ve been very pleased with these feeders. I purchased the medium and one of the large feeders from Amazon (with very quick service) and the third (large) feeder from my local bird store, Mother Nature’s. If you decide you’d like to get one, and choose to purchase it from Amazon you will find it here: Aspects 403 Quick-Clean Thistle Tube Feeder, Large – Antique Brass While the link says “large”, you can change the size to purchase the medium or small feeder by clicking the appropriate button on the page on Amazon.
Enjoy your Goldfinches!
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