jim's Birdacious Bark Butter

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Educational Resources

Frisky, Friendly, Fantabulous Finches!

With their bright blues, yellows, reds and purples, members of the finch family add splashes of color to backyard canvases across the United States and Canada. Their beautiful songs float through the air and over the treetops and can warm even the most cool fall morning.

Watch closely and you may see some of these more commonly known finches dart across your landscape:

• Purple Finches have a cool, purple-red plumage and are less common than House Finches.

• Male House Finches have splashes of orange-red color on their heads, shoulders and upper chest area.

Cassin’s Finches look similar to Purple Finches and live in the high-altitude coniferous forests in western North America.

• Rosy Finches are generally dark in color with patches of rosy feathers on their bellies and rumps.

When American Goldfinches molt in fall, the winter coats for both males and females are a cross between olive green and drab yellow with black and white accents. They will molt again in the spring and the males plumage becomes bright yellow to help attract females. Female goldfinches become dull yellow.

Lesser Goldfinches are cousins, of sorts, to American Goldfinches. They live in the southwestern United States and along the West Coast and sport white patches on their wings.

American Goldfinches long ago were called lettuce birds or wild canaries. This bird, which is no relation to a canary, will frequent and sometimes overtake a thistle feeder. They can be picky eaters and prefer their thistle dry and fresh. They also are fond of backyard garden seeds of hollyhock, dandelions, zinnia, coreopsis, lettuce and Swiss chard.

Since Goldfinches can be such finicky eaters, it may help to follow some feeding dos & don’ts:

• Keep seed fresh and dry.

• Shake the feeder periodically to make sure seed is dry.

• Change the seed after a month if the birds haven’t eaten it.

• Place a finch feeder away from other feeders – and other birds!

• If you have problems with larger birds, don’t put a tray underneath a finch feeder.

• Try a WBU Finch Feeder and watch the goldfinches clamor for a spot.

• Add a perch to your feeding setup so birds have a place to wait during busy feeder times.

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