🐦 Wild Bird Watchers Bulletin: August Edition

American goldfinches are the most desirable species at bird feeders in summer time. In fact, for many people the whole reason to feed in summer is to attract these delightful little songbirds. Their bright yellow plumage accompanied by the sweetest of songs just brightens the whole ambiance of the yard.

Goldfinches are the latest nesting specie we have here in Manitoba, timing it with the maturing of thistle plants in late July. Not only do finches eat the seeds of these unwelcome weeds but, the down or soft fluff produced by the seed heads provides for a cozy nest that only the female constructs in about 6 days. A nest woven so tight it can actually hold water! Attracting finches to the backyard is easy when you offer the right food and feeder.

American goldfinches having a drink

Finch feeders are designed with very tiny feeding ports so that other birds, especially House sparrows, cannot access the seed. The most common food to offer is Nyjer seed, a type of thistle seed but, to really get them interested in your feeder consider shelled sunflower. It is available in a finely ground option to fit through the small feeding ports of a Finch Feeder and they love it! There is even a mix of the two seeds together that also works very well.

Juvenile American goldfinches eating shelled sunflower at the Vista Dome feeder

TIP: Once the goldfinches have left in fall, don’t put your finch feeders away! In winter, new finches arrive called Common and Hoary redpolls and even another finch called Pine siskins. Leaving your feeders up will ensure you get to enjoy finches all year-long!

Another great way to see more finches is by offering water. They love bird baths but can be nervous of large size bowls so something on the smaller side that is more shallow is a great choice just for them. Soon the American goldfinches will be at bird feeders with their young and will feed heavily until they migrate in late September or even into October depending on the weather. It is a great time to have a feeder for them and to expect large groups as they gather to feed and prepare for their journey south.

Pine siskins and juvenile American Goldfinch at bird bath

American goldfinches are granivores, meaning their primary diet is seeds. During nesting season goldfinches are often victim to brood parasites, namely Brown-headed cowbirds. This is a when a bird lays its eggs in another species nest to be hatched and raised by the other species. Studies found that goldfinches have proven to be a terrible host for the cowbirds due to their diet. The cowbirds don’t usually survive as they are so nutritionally deficient due to the lack of insects which is a significant part of their regular diet.

See our selection of beautiful glass bird baths that are nice and shallow for finches and add a touch of beauty to the yard!