The goldfinch has to be one of our most celebrated garden birds with its cheerful, chirrupy song and bright colours. Even the most experienced and knowledgeable garden birdwatcher cannot help but feel a rush of joy when these birds are spotted in the garden.

  Goldfinches and Siskin: Richard Packwood (

It can be difficult to tell the difference between the males and females as they both feature the goldfinch colours. The males tend to have a little more red that covers the eye area and is often a brighter red where as the females red patch can look darker and only just go up to the eye. The males also tend to a have slightly longer strip of yellow in the wing than the female. You may need binoculars and a good long look to be able to see these details!

I had them in my garden feeding from a general sunflower seed mix that I’d put out for any birds that would be interested but then they seemed to disappear. I hadn’t seen them in my garden for the last 2/3 years but didn’t know why. Maybe our local cats were out and about (and fighting!) in the gardens more, maybe we humans were outside more as our summers got hotter and that put them off a bit with all our general activity and barbecues etc. It could be that they’d found some better places to feed but something that recently came to me is that they may not be keen on bird tables.

My hanging feeders were scattering seed everywhere so I put them away for a while and just used the tables; ...  no more goldfinches!

So, having seen a charm of them (the collective noun is a “charm” of goldfinches” … how beautifully apt!)  just up the road from where I live, I decided to do what I could to try and attract them back.

I put out their favourite two seeds: sunflower hearts and nyjer seed in hanging feeders and poked some brown teasel seed-head stems into a bucket of gravel and hoped for the best. Sure enough about a month later, I saw my first juvenile goldfinch with a brown head hanging from the nyger feeder; I was delighted!! …and now I see a charm fluttering about to feed most days. They love both the sunflower hearts and nyger seed and even though both these seeds are on the tables, they definitely prefer the hanging feeder.

Find out more about attracting goldfinches to your garden from the RSPB and Saga.

There is another lovely, clear recording you can listen to of the goldfinch song from British Birdsongs UK.

If you’re interested in knowing more collective nouns for birds, there are many more online from Country Life here and there is a well known book available to buy: "A Conspiracy of Ravens". There's also a cute little book on the collective nouns for animals from Penguin. 

It's wonderful how our interest and curiosity about wildlife can lead us on to learn so much more.