Anyone in the Hudson Valley can attract tons of beautiful goldfinches to their yard if they know the secret of what these birds really want.

We started putting out bird feeders around our yard years ago to keep our housecat entertained during the day. What we eventually found out was that seeing birds landing and taking off in front of our window wasn't just entertainment for the cats. We've grown to love watching our flying visitors stopping by all day long.

While we enjoy seeing woodpeckers, cardinals and nuthatches all fly up to the feeder, our absolute favorite bird to watch is the goldfinch. These brightly-colored birds aren't just beautiful to look at, the musical birds fill our yard with their peaceful songs all day long.

The Hudson Valley is a hotspot for goldfinches starting in early to mid-April every year. While there's a huge population of these birds that return to our region each spring, getting them to come to your feeder requires a little knowledge of what they like.

First of all, you'll need to make sure you're using the right seed. While woodpeckers and other winter birds will eat sunflower seeds and other wild bird feed, goldfinches are a little pickier. These brightly-colored birds really go wild for Nyjer seed. Sometimes called thistle, this tiny little seed is packed with the high amounts of fat and protein goldfinches need in their diet.

The tiny seeds look a little like grains of wild rice and are far too small to use in a traditional feeder. Instead, you'll need to pick up a finch feeder. The feeder has tiny little holes in it for the birds to poke their beaks through to grab the little seeds one at a time. These feeders usually have several perches on them, which allows multiple birds to visit at once.

A bonus of having a finch feeder is that squirrels have a very tough time getting any seed out of it. Although they'll most likely try anyway, most squirrels are eventually discouraged and quickly realize the finch feeder is more trouble than it's worth.

Of course, where you put your feeder is almost as important as what you put in it. You'll want to place the finch feeder in an area of your yard where you can enjoy seeing the birds from your window. However, it's important to make sure the feeder isn't too close to your window. Goldfinches can get aggressive when they see their reflection. If birds begin pecking and smacking against your window, you'll quickly learn that your feeder is a little too close to your home.

It's also important to make sure your finch feeder is placed somewhere that isn't constantly disturbed. If you have a busy front yard with loud traffic and lots of pedestrians, the goldfinches may get a little spooked. Locating the feeder in a quiet side yard or backyard that doesn't see much foot traffic will make the birds feel safe, allowing them to linger longer and more often.

With just a little know-how, you'll quickly be able to attract a whole feeder full of goldfinches to enjoy this summer. If you're able to capture them on camera, we'd love to see the results. You can post your pictures or video on our Facebook page or upload them directly through our mobile app.


Listen to the Boris & Robyn Show weekday mornings from 6AM to 10AM on 101.5 WPDH. Stream us live through the website, Alexa-enabled device, Google Home or the WPDH mobile app.

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