Get more goldfinches
Of all Britain’s finches, none is prettier or more charming than the goldfinch. This delightful bird, with its attractive tinkling song, was once a popular cage bird and the depredations of the bird trappers led to its disappearance from many parts of Victorian Britain. Today, happily, it is common and widespread throughout much of the UK, and only in the far north is it something of a rarity.
Despite its abundance – there are probably some 300,000 breeding pairs in the British Isles – until relatively recently it was never regarded as anything more than an occasional and irregular visitor to gardens. But that’s not the case anymore. Feeding niger seed has drawn these delightful birds into gardens. Many people first report attracting goldfinches to their gardens as daily visitors through feeding niger. Of course, there’s no guarantee that by hanging up a niger feeder the finches will find it; but in nine cases out of ten they uncannily manage to do so.
It typically takes anything from a fortnight to a month before the first goldfinches appear. Once they have found the niger you can be almost certain they will be back, bringing their friends with them. Numbers tend to peak in late March and early April, before dropping off in the summer. But once the autumn comes the flocks will soon start to build up quickly again.
A recent trend is for goldfinches to switch to mixed seed, especially Special Mix™ Husk- Free , or Sunflower Hearts. In some gardens they have even been reported to ignore niger seed in favour of these alternatives. A new development is the increasing number of young birds - lacking the red face of the adults - coming to feeders during summer. Weed seeds may have declined in our tidier countryside but goldfinches have adapted to the new food source we supply. They are thriving as a result.