Goldfinches...come back!

Hi all

I've been lurking for the past few days and have really enjoyed some of the discussions and pics, so thought I would post!

My girlfriend and I moved into our house in October '17 and in our first spring noticed that we had a pair of Goldfinches that had made a nest in the outer branches of our neighbours tree that had branched out above our fence panels. They stayed for a while but there were no signs of any eggs or chicks. Due to the vast renovation work we had to do (and still have to do) we had a couple of bonfires, mostly before the Goldfinches arrived, but one when we knew they were nesting. We don't have a huge garden but it is big enough to have the bonfire a comfortable distance from the nest, however the wind was a bit of a pain and I remember it seemingly blowing smoke in every direction. This was last summer and although they didn't leave the nest straight away, a few days later they were gone and never returned. We were really sad as we felt we had smoke them out, and almost certainly did.

We had purchased quite a bit of Niger seed and sunflower hearts whilst they stayed, but I think I only ever saw them eat once from the feeder, although the more I learn the more I think this was probably down to the feeder we were using (certainly in the case of the Niger seed).

Well at the weekend two Goldfinches came back into the garden to mooch around, still paying no interest to the feeders. Since then I have purchased an appropriate feeder for the Niger seed and sunflower hearts, so I am hoping this might help them to stick around. Unfortunately once they had abandoned the nest we decided to cut the tree branches back, but there is still plenty of space if they wish to nest back there. 

If anyone has any ideas on whether it  was indeed the bonfire that saw them flee, or if Goldfinches abandon nests for no apparent reason, then please let me know your thoughts, as well as any other tips on how to help them feel more at home in our garden. We have blue and great tits, blackbirds, sparrows, wood pigeons and starlings that visit frequently, but I really love those little red faced birds and would love to see them more often (we even named our house The Goldfinches).

Thanks for reading all of that (if you did)


  • Hi Lorri welcome to the community from Sheffield, glad to see you decided to join in.
    I find the main food in my garden for the Goldies are sunflower hearts, I do have a feeder with Niger in it but that rarely gets used unless there is no room on the hearts feeders.
    It could be a possibility that the smoke got too heavy for them and they didn't feel safe but you will probably never know for certain.
    They tend to feed in flocks so there is a chance where there is two there could be another 20 waiting to join them at the feeders.

    My Flickr photos

  • Just taken this through the window for you to show that they will use anything they can perch on.

    along with the standard feeders with perches they will also use the mesh type.

    My Flickr photos

  • Thanks for the response Alan. Lovely photo.

    Hopefully we will see them return and I can get some pictures!
  • Hello Lorri, welcome from me up in the very far north of Scotland, in Caithness. That was a shame about the Goldies leaving the nest, as Alan says, you will never know. Now you have some more coming back so hopefully they will nest with you once again. They are lovely wee birds with their red faces. I had around 10 the day of the Big Garden Watch. Enjoy and look forward to reading any updates.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Thank you Catlady. 10 would be the stuff of dreams lol. I just hope those two come back and stay for a while.
  • Hi Lorri and welcome from me in Berkshire.
    I find that sunflower hearts are by far Goldfinches food of preference. Niger seed gets ignored and goes mouldy so I've given up using it. They are charming little birds so I hope they return and the numbers build up. Word of a good food source soon spreads.



    My Flickr Photostream 

  • Hi Tony. Thanks for the welcome. I've seen a lot of people comment that Niger seed has gone to waste in their gardens and that sunflower hearts are the way to go for Goldfinches. I will see how the Niger seed goes for now, we do have sunflower hearts as well, so both will be out. Hopefully they will return soon.
  • Sometimes a little bit of patience is required with Goldfinches. When I moved into my house and started bird feeders (in winter), I got the tits immediately, but the Goldfinches didn't come regularly at first and even when they did they wouldn't use the feeders. However, by summer they had learnt to use the feeders and had become garden regulars and a year later their numbers had gone up so much that they had an almost permanent presence. My experience is that they do need good cover provided by bushes and trees though, otherwise they won't come no matter how much food is out.


    Nige   Flickr

  • In reply to Goldfincher:

    My Goldfinches go for the Niger seed and some times will go o the mixed seed one, I will see if I can get a shot of them tomorrow :)


    My Pictures

  • Hello Lorri, from Suffolk, over the years we have lived in our house we have built up a following of up 30 Goldfinch's visiting the garden daily and like Tony before we gave up Niger seed as it went uneaten and now only use sunflower hearts, with our feeders needing filling every couple of days. In time they get used to all feeders but I have noticed that with the normal perch feeders they do seem to prefer the RSPB feeder with ridged round metal perches, we have some with plastic perches and they go down slower and another with small diameter metal smooth perches which is always the last to be emptied.

    This is one of last years juveniles delving down into an open top feeder. As everyone has said keep percevering and they will eventually visit and learn to use your feeders. Good luck.