Looking to attract American goldfinches? You’re not alone. The brilliant color and sing-songy voice of the American goldfinch makes it one of the most desirable backyard birds. But the elusiveness of these wild canaries makes them a bit of a challenge to attract. You can, however, create a goldfinch haven by providing the basic needs of food, shelter, and water.
The ideal goldfinch habitat is, of course, a natural one. The more attractive the habitat, the more likely you are to have frequent visitors and nesting pairs. Goldfinches feast almost exclusively on seeds. So the single best way to bring them to your backyards? Fill it with their favorite seed-producing plants. Then you’ll be enjoying their colorful splashes of yellow all year long.
Flowers that Attract American Goldfinches
Poppies (spring to midsummer)
Marigolds (spring to fall)
Ragwort (spring to fall)
Asclepias (early summer to early fall)
Coneflowers (early summer to mid-fall)
Asters (midsummer to fall)
Sunflowers (summer to fall)
Cosmos (summer to mid-fall)
Zinnias (summer to late fall)
A little bit of extra planning can ensure your yard has blossoms and the resulting seeds from spring right through the winter, in some climates.
If you’re looking for more recommendations, check out this listing of plants that attract wild birds.
Give Me Shelter!
It is also beneficial to have trees and shrubs in your yard to attract goldfinches. These supplement the American goldfinch diet, and provide safe nesting areas. Many native trees or shrubs attract goldfinches, but here are a few favorites:
Arborvitae offers exceptional shelter within the protective evergreen foliage and yields small seed-bearing cones
Barberry is not only appreciated by the Goldfinch, but has stunning fall coloration
Boxwood has a neat appearance with little maintenance and is evergreen for year-round shelter
Elderberry bloom from late spring to early fall, depending upon the cultivar
A Little Extra Help: Nesting Materials and Feeders
Hanging baskets filled with nesting materials, such as wool or cotton, will encourage nesting pairs to stay. Keep in mind American goldfinches nest later than most other songbirds. Which means it’s best to leave the nesting material up until late summer.
Backyard feeders are an acceptable alternative for goldfinches if a natural habitat is not an option (or as a supplement if food is in short supply). Thistle seed, a.k.a. Nyjer seed, and black oil sunflower seed are their favorites.
They won’t eat old seed, so make sure it’s not in the feeder for more than 3 weeks at a time. Patience is the key here, as it can sometimes take weeks or months for the birds to discover a new cafe. Goldfinches are somewhat picky about what they eat, but they are not picky about where they eat. They will gladly pick up the fallen seed on the ground or will dine out of a fly-thru or dish-type feeder.
Last But Not Least: Water
Most importantly, don’t forget to keep fresh water available for both drinking and bathing. A clean goldfinch is a happier goldfinch. Though they get a lot of moisture from the seeds they eat, a dependable source of water is a must. Birdbaths with fountains or drippers with their splashing sounds are the most attractive. Live in a place that freezes over the winter? Consider a heated bird bath! There is definitely nothing wrong with pampering these little ones a bit and they are so worth it.
Now sit back and enjoy your beauties!