What Do Goldfinches Eat?

You may not notice these beauties during the winter time as they are pretty dull looking, but come springtime the males plumage starts to pop into a vibrant yellow coloring that really stands out in your garden.  Do you know what bird I am talking about?

male and female goldfinch on feeder - what do goldfinches eatMany people call them wild canaries but their actual title is American Goldfinch.  The males are the bright yellow with black and white wings and have a black cap.    This is their spring and summer plumage which is to attract a female.  The female is more of an olive yellow color without a black cap.  See photo right.

NOTE:  Most female birds are duller in color so they are camouflaged when nesting to detract from predators.


How To Attract Goldfinches To Your Garden

You have to know what Goldfinches eat in order to attract them to your garden.  I am not necessarily talking about wild bird seed although a good thistle feeder filled with nyger/thistle seed is very desirable to them and so is hulled sunflower seeds.  However, there are also flowers that will attract these birds in too.

goldfinch on flower - what do goldfinches eatGoldfinches eat mainly seeds and the best plants, bushes, and trees to have in your garden are sunflowers, coreopsis, cosmos, daisies, marigolds, poppies, purple coneflowers, zinnias, sweet gum, birch and hemlock . They love the seed heads of these during their growing season.

Having wild bird food and/or some of these plants in your backyard is an ideal setting for these birds and a good guarantee that they will stay throughout the year.

Any type of feeder will do too.  They will come in to hopper feeders, tube feeders such as thistle/nyger feeders, and platform feeders.  They also will feed on the ground.

Goldfinches also love water so have a birdbath nearby so they can drink and bathe in it.  Always fun to watch.


Facts About The American Goldfinch

The American Goldfinch is a songbird that is found throughout North America in backyards, open woods, and parks.  It is four to five inches long with a short conical beak.

Goldfinches nest later than other songbirds starting in late June or early July and ending in September.  Males and females stay together during breeding season and may have up to two broods.  In fact, sometimes a female will start another nest while the first hatchlings are being raised.

The female builds a cup-like nest (thirty feet off of the ground) that is tightly woven  made up of plant fibers, plant down, and spiderwebs.  She will lay anywhere from two to seven eggs incubating them for about fifteen days.  All the while the male will be feeding her.  Once nestlings are hatched both male and female feed them with the male eventually taking over.  The young birds will leave the nest eleven to seventeen days later and will stay dependent on the adults for about three more weeks.

The sound of the American Goldfinch singing in your garden is always enjoyable to hear too.  Listen to it HERE.

FUN FACT!  During nesting season put out nesting materials for the Goldfinches and watch them come and grab the materials throughout the day.  I use cotton fiber that someone gave to me as a gift.  I place it in a suet feeder so the birds can easily get to it.  






In Conclusion

coreopsis - what do goldfinches eatThe American Goldfinch is a pretty common bird found throughout North America.  It is not too difficult attracting them to your yard especially if you have plants and trees like the coreopsis, cosmos, zinnias, sweet gum, service berry, mulberry, and hemlock.  Goldfinches love the seed heads to these during their growing season.


Another way to attract them is by having a nyger/thistle seed feeder in your yard or any other type of feeder that contains sunflower seeds.  Goldfinches will never leave your backyard if you continue to replenish it.

Just remember that the bright yellow coloring of the male with its black cap and wings is only present during the breeding season.  Just like many other species of birds, these vibrant colors are for attracting mates.  Once nesting season is over in the fall they will lose these pretty colors to a more duller plumage for the winter months.

So enjoy these beautiful birds this spring and summer because boy are they bright in the sunlight.

Do you have American Goldfinches in your garden?  How do you attract them?

If you ever have any questions or would like to make a comment feel free to do so below.


Happy Birding!







Affiliate Disclosure – I am an Affiliate of many products promoted on this website and may earn a commission if you purchase something at no cost to you.



Posted in Backyard Birds, Songbirds, Wild Bird Food and tagged , .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *