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Educational Resources


Q: I put out my finch feeder and no birds are using it. What am I doing wrong?

Sometimes finches are picky eaters. It may take them a while to get used to coming to your new finch feeder. Check the seed in the tube by shaking it every week for freshness and to be sure that the seed is not getting moist. If the seed is getting moist or a month or two has passed, replace the seed. Be patient, it is worth the wait!

Q: Why do I get huge flocks of goldfinches, siskins and other winter finches at my feeders one year and then the next year they disappear?

You may be experiencing a population fluctuation. The birds may be transients, or there may be competition for reliable food sources. The lack of activity you experience one year may be caused by seasonal migrations, weather issues or the availability of natural food sources.

The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology has research that indicates winter finches can show patterns of irruptive migration, which means they will appear in areas where they did not exist the previous year. This type of migration can expand a specie’s winter range and generally is caused by a lack of normally abundant food sources.

Researchers have documented irruptive migrations in Pine Grosbeaks, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Common Redpolls and Evening Grosbeaks. Roughly every other year the birds are sighted in certain areas. By examining the foods attractive to these species, researchers have determined that some plants and trees produce fewer seeds every other year – thus causing the birds to move out of their normal range in search of food.

Q: Why do I see lots of goldfinches at my feeders some days and none on other days?

Goldfinches move around a lot. It is reported that 25 to 100 different goldfinches can visit a feeder in one day.

In most areas throughout North America, they increase their feeding activities at feeders during the spring and will feed all summer long. The southern states are their typical wintering ground, and they fly farther north to spend the spring and summer.

Because goldfinches are known to be picky eaters, there are several things you can do to make sure goldfinches find your yard attractive:

• Keep seed fresh and dry inside the tube. Shake the tube periodically to make sure that the seed inside the tube feeder is dry.

• Make sure the seed does not stay in the feeder uneaten for more than a month (two to four weeks in wet climates).

• Transfer the seed (as long as it is not moldy) into another feeder if it goes uneaten in your finch tube feeder.

• Place your tube feeder away from the feeders where larger birds are feeding. This allows the smaller birds access to the finch feeder without being harassed by larger birds.

• A tray is not recommend for finch feeders because it may encourage larger unwelcome birds. In addition, because finches typically sit at the feeder to eat, their droppings fall to the tray where food may spill.

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