Nyjer Thistle Seed Bird Feeders Goldfinch, Finches
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Nyjer thistle feeders are tube feeders designed with small feeding holes in order to prevent the tiny nyjer seed from falling out, and also to make the seed available only to small beaked species such as goldfinches.
Thistle – Nyjer Bird Feeders
Nyjer/Thistle feeders are Tube Bird Feeders which are specially designed with very small feeding holes in order to prevent the nyjer seed from pouring onto the ground and make the seed available only to small-beaked finches. These feeders are mostly attractive to goldfinches, house finches, pine siskins and redpolls and purple finches. Ground-feeding species such as doves, juncos and sparrows also find Nyjer attractive and will keep the ground under your nyjer feeder clean.
Some thistle feeders are specially designed for the American Goldfinch, who is particularly attracted to nyjer seed, to hang upside down to eat the seeds. The feeding holes which dispense the seeds are located below the the perch, allowing the goldfinch to hang up-side-down to eat. This helps to keep the other birds from competing for the nyjer seed as the goldfinch can hang upside down in this manner to feed while other birds can not. Larger birds may eat at your main bird feeding station, while smaller finches can feed and enjoy the nyjer feeder without the competition.
Nyjer feeders can be hung or pole mounted and require squirrel protection or guards. To clean a nyjer bird feeder, use a stiff bottle brush and hot water. Do not allow seeds to collect and rot in the bottom of the feeder.
Eastern or American Goldfinch
The Eastern or American Goldfinch - also known as the Wild Canary - is a North American bird in the finch family. It is migratory, ranging from southern Canada to North Carolina during the breeding season, and from just south of the Canadian border to Mexico during the winter. They are found in weedy fields and floodplains as well as cultivated land, orchards and gardens.
American Goldfinch are only finch in its subfamily which undergoes a complete molt of it's feathers. It is the only member of its family to have this second molt in the spring, all the other species have just one molt each year in the fall. In summer months the male is a vibrant yellow in order to attract a female, while in the winter the male is an olive color. The female American Goldfinch is a dull yellow-brown which brightens only somewhat during the summer. They are one of North America's latest nesting birds, often not staring to nest until June or July.
In winter months,the American Goldfinch can be seen in flocks at your bird feeders while in summer during breeding season they are more often spotted in small groups. Often they are monogamous, but females can switch mates after producing a first brood of nestlings. When the female produces the first brood, the male will attend to the babies while the female goes off to find another male and produce a second brood. The female goldfinch builds a cup shaped nest in the fork of a tree or bush while the male keeps watch.
Range: Southeast British Columbia and Newfoundland, south to Georgia, central Oklahoma, Arkansas, central Utah, Colorado and Baja California. It is a common bird in the Northeast.
Habitat: Woodland edges, bushy thickets and weedy fields and grasslands and nearby trees. They can be seen in open woods, on lawns and on roadsides.
Diet: The American Goldfinch main diet eating seeds and grains, but upon occasion will eat insects. The insects are fed to the Goldfinch babies for a protein source. Wild Goldfinch diet consists of the seeds from several annual plants, most of which are considered weeds and found growing in fields, abandoned clearings and along roadsides. These plants are: thistle, teasel, dandelion, ragweed, mullein, cosmos, sunflower and alder trees. In your garden you may notice the goldfinches eating the seeds off your cone flowers, black eyed susan and other members of the daisy family. The bird will also eat tree buds, sap from maples and some berries.
Attracting American Goldfinches
Plants: Asters, birch trees, box elder, cone flower, cosmos, daisy, black eyed susan, firs, grapes, maple trees, mulberries, oaks, hemlocks, pine trees, roses, serviceberries, spruce, sunflowers, sweet gum, thistle (warning: invasive!), white ash, zinnias.
Feeders: The American goldfinch will feed readily at a bird feeder. They like black oil sunflower, hulled sunflower, some suet mixes, and nyjer. Their absolute favorite seed at a bird feeder is nyjer. Nyjer seed is the best food to use to attract these lovely birds to your yard.
Nesting: The Goldfinch is not a cavity dwelling bird, but instead builds it's nest in late summer in the branches of a deciduous shrub or tree. The nest is built by the female to about 30ft above the ground. While the male goldfinch is known to fly with the female as she gathers materials to make a nest and will carry items back with her, he does not partake in the actual construction. The outside of the nest is made from of bark, weeds, vines and grass with the rim reinforced with bark tied together with spiderwebs and caterpillar silk. The inside cup is lined with plant down from milkweed, thistle or cattail. The goldfinch nest is woven tightly enough to hold water and the parents must cover it to insure the nestlings do not drown during a heavy rain. Providing nesting habitat for the goldfinch does not include birdhouses. Instead, provide trees, shrubs and nesting material to encourage them to breed in your area. Their nesting material consists of invasive plants so keep this in mind should you decide to grow the items they use.