Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Goldfinches have been frequent visitors to our feeders recently (above, one is keeping company with two house finches). We've previously most often seen them hanging from our net-style thistleseed (nyger) feeder, and clinging atop dry coneflower heads, picking at the seeds. These slender seeds don't require much force to crack, and these finches have less substantial bills than you see on birds that tend to eat larger seeds (think cardinal, or even house finch, by comparison).
But we've recently also seen them eating black oil sunflower seeds at our caged feeder (above), the big tubular Droll Yankee feeder, and the platform feeder (below), and now I've learned that sunflower seeds are in fact very popular with goldfinches. I did not realize that. We just put up the thistle feeder for the first time last spring, and this is the first year we've had goldfinches with any regularity. I'm not sure why they didn't visit the sunflower feeders before. We wonder if it might have something to do with the fact that a week or so ago we baked quite a bit of our seed to disinfect it while doing a thorough cleaning of our feeders to prevent the spread of disease between birds. We had just filled the feeders a couple of days before, and didn't want to throw out that much seed, so we spread it on baking sheets and put in a 250 F. oven for an hour (and then scrubbed the baking sheets well!). Maybe baking made the seed more appealing. Anyway, it's fun to see the bright yellow birds amidst the reddish house finches at the larger feeders now. Before long they'll be transitioning to their olive-drab winter plumage.