Goldfinches are a welcome sight for bird feeding enthusiasts. Their yellow coloring and cheerful songs really make them stand out amongst backyard visitors. But they don’t enjoy using all types of bird feeders, and they have some favorites when it comes to seed. We are going to recommend the best goldfinch feeders, to keep them coming to your yard for more. This includes all three types of goldfinches found in the U.S., the American goldfinch, the Lesser goldfinch, and Lawrence’s goldfinch.
Best Goldfinch feeders
Top 3 picks
This tube feeder boasts 20 feeding ports along its 36 inch length. The ports run all the way from the top to the bottom of the feeder. This design lets the maximum number of birds feed at once no matter the seed level, compared to other tubes feeders with perches only in the middle or on the bottom. The feeding holes are sized specially for feeding Nyjer. Small enough so that the seeds won’t leak out, but large enough to allow the birds to feed.
If you are looking to minimize seed being spilled to the ground, this might be the feeder for you. The fully enclosed plastic tube looses much less seed than a metal or fabric mesh feeder. It should keep rain out pretty well, but does have drain holes at the bottom just in case. Holds 3.5 pounds of nyjer.
Another way you can feed nyjer seed is in a soft mesh “sock”. Some people feel the goldfinches prefer these over wire mesh or tube feeders because the fabric holes are much easier for them to pull seed out of. They do wear out much faster than something metal or plastic. However many people can get 6-12 months out of it, maybe even more if you do a little sewing and mending.
When the sock looks like it needs a wash, it’s easy to soak in the sink or throw into the laundry. Another thing people like about fabric socks is because they have holes all over, water drains well. This avoids some of the spoilage and some of the messy clumps that can form at the bottom of traditional metal/plastic feeders.
This feeder by Kaytee takes the sock-feeder game up a notch by adding a dome at the top that can hold extra seed, and also makes the socks easier to refill. It has two mesh socks for plenty of space for multiple finches, that often will show up to your feeders in groups. The socks are replaceable when they wear out. This package comes with two extra socks.
I’ve mentioned that squirrels usually don’t tend to like nyjer seed. But of course “usually” doesn’t mean always. Some people do have trouble with squirrels chewing through their nyjer feeders or nyjer socks. If that’s the problem in your yard, or you want to just avoid that from the start, this is your best bet. Brome has made a name for themselves as having some of the highest quality and best squirrel proof bird feeders out there.
This model is designed specially to feed nyjer seed for finches. The outside cage is weight activated, and will spring downwards, closing off the feeding ports to squirrels and large birds. The materials are also made to be as chew-proof as possible. The finches can land on the provided perches or cling to the cage.
This feeder is similar to the sock style, but obviously much more durable since the mesh is made from metal. This is a common style for feeding nyjer seed. The mesh design lets finches feed anywhere they want on the feeder, and many birds can use it at once. Since goldfinches are used to getting seeds from all sorts of flowers and plants, they are very adept at clinging and balancing, even feeding upside down. They have no problem hopping all over this type of feeder and eating in any position.
Nyjer seed can become clumpy after getting wet and will need to be changed out to keep things fresh. It is especially notorious for forming hard clumps at the bottom of the feeder. I recommend this Droll Yankees model in particular because the base is removable. That allows you to get inside the tube from both the top and the bottom, which makes cleaning things out a lot easier! No more angrily bashing the feeder against something hard to try and dislodge a seed clump at the bottom that you can’t reach.
One slight drawback to mesh style feeders is the seed can slip out easier than an enclosed tube feeder. Ground-feeding birds like doves and juncos will be happy to eat some of this. But if you find there is a little too much mess, you can buy a seed-catching tray attachment for this feeder that snaps onto the bottom. I actually have this model myself and sometimes will get a mourning dove that likes to just sit in the tray and hang out, makes me laugh.
Ok, enough with the nyjer seed feeders. As we mentioned Goldfinches do like other types of bird seed. Black oil sunflower or sunflower hearts (sunflower seed without the shell) is another solid choice. Black oil sunflower works is almost all types of standard bird feeders. But since we are talking about goldfinches specifically, I would recommend a tube feeder like this Droll Yankees classic. It has six perches at different heights that will make sure you can feed several finches at once.
Most of the time, these guys don’t travel alone. A great multi-purpose feeder that will work with most types of seed and seed mixes. If you want to go even bigger, there is a huge 12-perch version of this style. There is also a seed catcher tray attachment you can add on. Many of your other backyard song birds will enjoy this feeder as well.
Goldfinch Feeding Tips
- Many finches, goldfinches included, travel in groups. While they will sometimes show up alone, most of the time you will have 2-6 or more show up at your feeder at the same time. The more feeding space you can provide, the better.
- Goldfinches love nyjer seed. Nyjer is the #1 recommended seed for feeding goldfinches. It is a very small, needle-like black seed. Because of its size, it requires special feeders.
- Outside of nyjer, black oil sunflower is another top recommended seed for feeding goldfinches. It is easy for them to crack open, unlike the harder-shelled striped sunflower seed.
- The vast majority of a goldfinches diet is seeds. They will not be interested in suet, large nuts, fruit pieces or nectar.
- Goldfinches love to perch. They are used to pulling seeds out of flower heads and balancing on top of flower and grass stalks. Therefore they are very nimble and agile. Small perches or even hanging upside down to feed is not a problem for them.
To learn more, check out 6 easy tips to attract goldfinches to your yard
All About Nyjer Seed & Recommendations
What the finches love about nyjer are its rich oils. These oils give the seed its nutritional content and what makes it a great energy source for the finches. A fresh nyjer seed looks black and a little shiny. Because nyjer is not native to the U.S., it must be heat treated before it is sold here to prevent the fallen seeds from germinating and becoming invasive. This can dry out some of those oils. They also just dry out naturally over time and exposure to air. The seeds will take on a more brown color and appear “dusty” and dull with no shine as they dry out.
Finches are VERY attuned to this and they want nothing to do with dried out seeds.
Tips to keep your nyjer seed as fresh as possible
- Inspecting the visual appearance of the seed if you buy in a store. Try to find bags with clear windows so you can see if the seed quality looks ok.
- Don’t buy in bulk. You can sometimes find huge 20+ pound bags of seed. And it’s often a good deal price wise. Until that bag sits in your garage for six or more months slowly drying out, and then you find the finches don’t even want to eat it anymore by time you get to the last half of the bag. Only keep on hand what you can feed in 1-2 months.
- Keep it fresh in the feeder. Don’t go longer than two weeks without changing out the seed. If you don’t have a lot of finches and they are eating it slowly, try only filling up half the feeder at a time. That will waste less seed when you refresh it.
- Try and keep it out of weather if possible. Too much water really causes issues with clumping and spoiling. Hanging a weather guard over the top of your bird feeder, such as this large Aspects Weather Dome, can provide some protection. Take the feeder in if a real downpour day is forecasted. If left outside check the feeder after a big rain, make sure it drained well. Change out seed if necessary.
Best Nyjer Seed
I don’t have a brand I swear by at the moment, still trying out different options. But I think this list would be a good place to start in finding nyjer that works for you. They are by well respected brands and have good reviews on Amazon.
When it comes to the best bird feeder for goldfinches, any of these is a good place to start. Try and think about your own needs and what works best for you. Do you need squirrel proof? Something inexpensive you can wash and reuse like a sock? If you already have a lot of finches in your yard perhaps the large tube feeder with many perches would be best. Or if you just want one feeder that will satisfy many types of birds including finches, try out the classic sunflower feeder.