How to Attract American Goldfinches, my Favorite Backyard BirdsPhoto from unsplash

Originally Posted On: How to Attract American Goldfinches, my Favorite Backyard Birds – Mry C Pet Care


If you are into birdwatching and want to explore all the different aspects of attracting American Goldfinches, you are in the right place. Yellow Finches are also called American goldfinches, and these are among the most sought after birds in the birdwatching community.

Yellow Finches are primarily native to North America. Here in Southern California, you can spot them year-round. You are most likely to see them during the winter season in other areas as they migrate towards Southern regions.

If you are interested in attracting Yellow Finches towards your feeders, you need to have brightly colored cylindrical feeders with mesh sides or finch socks filled with nettle birdseed. Many other standard wild bird seeds are too large in size for finch feeders. You cannot add an ordinary sock feeder for Yellow Finches as these birds require a special type of sock feeder or tube for feeding. Yellow Finches belong to the “cling and peck” category of feeders. This means that these birds love to hang to the ends of flowers while eating the seeds from the flowers.

This is why you need to get a specifically designed feeder for finches that will allow them to cling or hang to the side of the feeder while pecking at the seeds inside the tube. It would help if you also stayed away from feeders that may attract larger birds, ultimately turning away the smaller Yellow Finches.

You can use a mesh sock feeder for Yellow Finches as these birds also like to peck at the seeds through the fabric of a sock feeder. This gives them the feeling of feeding in the wild, and they can also hang from different angles with the sock feeder without any issues. You can also use any pantyhose or nylon socks at home to turn into a sock feeder for these birds.

Besides choosing the right feeder for Yellow Finches, you should also take special care in choosing the right seeds for these birds. You cannot simply use any seeds to attract Yellow Finches, and you will have to use black nettle seeds to increase your chances of getting more Yellow Finches to your garden.

One of the best things about using nettle seeds is that it only attracts Yellow Finches and keeps squirrels and other birds away from this feed type. This is a rather specific form of feeding for Yellow Finches, and many other birds and animals dislike it.

It would help if you also used fresh seeds that look black and oily to increase your chances of attracting Yellow Finches. If you go with brown and old seeds as your feed, you will end up turning away Yellow Finches, and they will not return to your garden.

Another thing to keep in mind is to purchase these seeds in small quantities so that they don’t turn bad sitting on your shelf. You can also mix other types of seeds into the feeder to serve as the perfect supplement for thistle seeds. As already stated, Yellow Finches love black oil sunflower seeds, so that you can add those into your thistle seeds without any issues.

However, remember that Yellow Finches come with small beaks that cannot take care of hard shells. Therefore, you should select your seeds carefully and go for soft seeds that Yellow Finches can easily consume. In the end, you should keep 75% of the feed as thistle seeds and 25% from other seeds into your feeder.

You Should Create a Bright and Colorful Garden For a Finch Habitat.

One of the first things you will need to do to attract Yellow Finches towards your garden is to create a beautiful habitat suitable to house finches or a feeder for these birds. You should know that these birds prefer shrubs and trees with enough vertical branches for nesting material.

Moreover, these birds also prefer to nest where two or three branches grow together, making a bowl that offers all the necessary support for a new nest. Their nests are not visible from below, and these birds usually cover their nests with leaves and needles.

Yellow Finches are known to build their nests among buttonbushes, fruit trees, Monterey Pines, and hawthorns, among other tall thistles. If you already have trees containing enough shrubs and thick branches for Yellow Finches, you should pay special attention when trimming them so that you do not end up destroying the perfect habitat for your finches.

Finches prefer to build nests at least 10 feet off of the ground. The reason behind it is that it keeps their nests free and safe from cats and other predators who cannot jump to such heights with ease. So, if you are thinking about attracting Yellow Finches to your backyard, you should install your feeders near areas with taller shrubs and trees so that Yellow Finches can make their home in tall branches.

Grow Colorful Plants and Food Sources for Yellow Finches.

These birds are known to prefer bright food sources, which is why you need to plant colorful flowers and trees in your backyard to serve as the bright food sources for Yellow Finches. One of the most popular food sources among Yellow Finches is the black oil sunflower. Therefore, if you want more finches in your backyard, you need to plant colorful flowers, such as:

Black Oil Sunflowers




Black-Eyed Susans

Purple Coneflowers



These are just a handful of bright-colored flowers that will attract many birds, including Yellow Finches, to your backyard. If you want more of these birds, you can plant more yellow-colored flowers to serve as a bright food source.

Add A Birdbath for Fresh Water.

Apart from having a special attraction towards bright-colored food sources, Yellow Finches are also known to have a special spot for freshwater. Therefore, if you want more finches in your backyard, you should know that these birds can create their nest near water sources that they can use for drinking and bathing. You can install a birdbath for water in your backyard, and it will increase the chances of attracting Yellow Finches to your garden.

Keep A Healthy and Attractive Feeding Environment for Yellow Finches.

Now that you have created the perfect habitat and feeders for Yellow Finches, you also need a perfect routine to maintain the feeding environment regularly. This means that you will have to take care of the environment and ensure that it is continuously viable and healthy for Yellow Finches.

For this purpose, you can empty half-filled feeders to take care of any old and brown seeds from the feed. In general, the seeds sitting at the bottom are prone to moisture and turn bad quickly. Yellow Finches are known to be quite picky at choosing their feed, which is why you need to take care of the feeding environment regularly and remove any old seed from the feeders to make a place for new seeds. Professional gardeners recommend refilling the feeders at least once a month. Although my neighborhood finches can wipe out the food from my feeders in about 3 days…

Moreover, it is also recommended that you deep-clean the feeder itself and eliminate any unwanted smells from the feeder. You can use warm water and vinegar to deep-clean your feeders and take care of any dust or debris that can turn away these birds. This way, you will be able to take care of any mold or bacteria, making a home in your feeders.

However, if you currently reside in an area with unpredictable weather conditions and rainy seasons, you will need to deep-clean your feeders once a week to eliminate any mold and bacteria. You can use simple liquid dish soap to clean your feeders, and you do not have to go for a high-intensity detergent to maintain the good quality of your feeders. Stronger cleaners can be harmful to the birds.

Wash Birdbaths Twice a Week.

It is not enough to take care of bird feeders, but you also need to take care of birdbaths at least twice or thrice a week. These birdbaths are home to a wider array of mold and bacteria than feeders, as these are used for washing and drinking. Therefore, you will need to drain the water from the pipes and clean the birdbath with a paper towel or a sponge to prevent it from growing mold and bacteria.

Yellow Finches are also picky when choosing the freshwater source, and if they observe any unwanted smells in the water source, they will never return to it and find a new home. Therefore, you will need to take care of your birdbath and clean it at least twice or thrice a week.

For this purpose, you can create a cleaning solution of your own with one part white vinegar and nine parts warm water. You can take out water from the birdbath, wipe it clean with the cleaning solution, and refill it with fresh water.

Use More Food During the Winter Season.

You can use the normal amount of food during the summer season, but you will have to set out more food during the winter season to attract migrating Yellow Finches towards your garden.

Yellow Finches are migratory birds, and these fly off to southern regions in search of food during the cold season. You will have to set out more food during the harsh cold season to attract traveling Yellow Finches.

Moreover, Yellow Finches are known to travel in large flocks, so you will have to set out more food for the entire flock. If you can offer plenty of food in your feeders, you will see repeated visitors and an entire flock of beautiful goldfinches in your backyard.

Separate Finch Feeding Areas From Other Bird Feeding Areas

If you are an avid bird watcher and enjoy bringing different birds to your backyard with bird feeders, you will need to remove or move other feeders away from the finch-specific bird feeders. This is because Yellow Finches are known to be shy, and these often stay away from noisy or crowded areas. This is why if you place a finch bird feeder near other bird feeders, you will end up turning away Yellow Finches that may be interested in feeding in your garden.

You will have to keep a minimum distance of about 15 feet between these feeders and other feeders. Additionally, keeping finch bird feeders away from the rest of the feeders will also shun away from any large birds that may become a nuisance for smaller Yellow Finches.

There have been times when large birds were known to be aggressive towards Yellow Finches, and Yellow Finches will never return to your garden if they have to face hostility in feeding. Therefore, you will need to keep finch bird feeders at least 15 to 20 feet away from other feeders and five feet above the ground.