Want more Goldfinches in your yard? Make them a garden. The Goldfinch is one of the most popular birds, second only to Cardinals, in backyard gardens. The state bird of Iowa, Washington and New Jersey the Goldfinch is loved in all states.
Funny, acrobatic and beautiful are words used to describe this very friendly bird that will eat from your hand with a little bit of work.
Everyone knows the Goldfinch loves feeders filled with nyjer seeds, but they also love garden flowers that produce seeds and plants that produce material for their nest.
So set aside some space in your yard to plant a special garden just for them. The Goldfinch will come and be very happy if you plant Blackeye Susans, Black Seed Sunflowers, purple Cornflowers, Asters, Coreopsis, yellow Zinnias, Blanket flowers and Sunflowers. Adding a birdbath will also make them happy.
The Goldfinch gets its beautiful colour from the seeds it eats and the plants listed above are just what they need. For nesting, the Goldfinch likes Thistle, Dandelion, Milkweed and Cattail. What they want is the down from these plants and if you can't grow these, like Cattails, you can find grapevine cotton balls in some bird stores. The vines are shaped into a ball filled with cotton. I make my own by saving pill bottle cotton and putting it in an empty suit feeder. And so far it works just fine.
Being late nesters, Goldfinch will start their first brood in late May or June and have their second brood as late as September. The nest are made of down or cotton held together with Spider silk woven to hold it together. Each nesting will produce 3 -7 light blue eggs. Thier young during their first Winter will be the colour of brown wood. So if you see a number of small brown birds around your seed feeder you will know their young are doing just fine.
In the Fall do not clean up your garden. Leave flower heads on the plants for the Goldfinch to eat. This is a fun time to watch them as they will use their feet to get every last seed -sometimes hanging upside down. As Winter comes the Goldfinch will change it's colour to a brown-olive colour and will stay around eating from a feeder, some Maple tree sap and tree buds.
Most likely it will take 2 or more years to get your garden going if you are starting from 0. Take your time adding 1 or 2 plants at a time until the garden is pleasing to you and the Goldfinch. Remember this beautiful bird will be around for a long time - they live for 3-6 years - and some have lived for 11 years plus you will have their young starting the cycle of life all over.