Finches can be finicky and are sometimes hesitant to visit bird feeders. These eight hints for how to attract finches will help you create a finch-friendly backyard bird feeding station they can't resist!
1. Place Feeders Where Finches Feel Safe
A feeder out in the open can make finches feel vulnerable to predators. Placing the feeder near a shrub or tree will make the finches feel safe and can also encourage them to explore the new feeder. Once they have discovered it, you can move it far enough away from shrubs and trees so the squirrels can't jump to it.
2. Temporarily Remove Other Feeders
Birds are creatures of habit, and sometimes it can take them days or even weeks to use a new feeder. There's something new in the yard they aren't used to, and they need to warm up to it first. Temporarily removing other feeders in the area encourages birds to forage outside of their usual routine and can help them find the new feeder. Oddly enough, filling a new feeder half-full seems to attract birds to the feeder.
3. Finches Feed on Fresh Black Seed
Make sure to buy seed that has a strong black color. Finches won't feed on brown, old-looking seed. Thistle seed (aka Nyjer®) dries out quickly, so store your fresh thistle in the freezer until you're ready to use it. This helps preserve the seed, preventing it from drying out until it goes into your finch feeders. It's a good idea to buy thistle on an as-needed basis; purchase a seed quantity that the birds in your yard will consume within a month or so. If oil doesn't come out when you pinch a seed with your fingernail, it's not fresh, and the finches won't enjoy it. Finches can actually tell the difference. They frequently visit feeders with new thistle and often ignore those with old, dried-out seeds.
4. Add Brightly Colored Ribbons & Plants
Birds have an extremely developed sensitivity to color and are attracted to bright colors not commonly found in nature. Adding something like a colorful ribbon can help attract finches, as the movement in the wind can make them feel like another bird has already explored the new feeder and found it to be safe. You can also use colorful and flowering plant species in your garden so birds on the fly can spot your finch-friendly backyard from the sky.
5. Finches Need Clean Feeders
Finches don't like dirty feeders and will avoid a feeder if it's moldy or otherwise unclean. When it rains, seed can also become clumpy, and the birds won't be able to pull seeds out of the feeder. Adding a weather guard to your feeder can prevent the seeds from getting wet and clumping. Clean feeders keep birds healthy and attract foraging finches.
6. Seed-Bearing Plants Attract Finches
Flowers in bloom and plants going to seed attract finches to your yard. Goldfinches are granivores and will eat seeds from dandelions, grass, flower heads such as Black-Eyed Susans, and occasionally pine cones and leaves of certain plants.See also: Jump-Start Birds' Journeys with a Migration-Ready Yard
7. Give Black Oil Sunflower Seed a Try
Finches also love black oil sunflower seed. It's high in fat content and is a healthy source of nutrition for them. Because it's a larger seed, sunflower won't fit in thistle feeders, but there are a wide variety of feeder styles for offering sunflower seed. Most birds enjoy sunflower seed, so you will likely attract additional bird species.
8. Finches Rarely Finish Their Food
Finches are notorious for emptying only half a feeder and ignoring the rest until the bird feeder is replenished. If this is happening, empty the feeder of the remaining seed and check the freshness. If the seed is still good, fill the bottom half of the feeder with new seed and put the leftover seed on top. This will ensure that the finicky finches are happy and healthy.