Having a quality finch feeder is a cornerstone of any successful bird feeding station.
That’s because finches are some of the most colorful, active, and entertaining birds to observe in your backyard! In my neck of the woods (Ohio), the two most common finches that come to my feeders provide a nice contrast of colors. The House Finch displays beautiful shades of red, while the American Goldfinches are stunning in summer with their bright yellow plumage.
And luckily, finches are relatively easy to attract if you use one of the best finch feeders listed below.
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To see for yourself, check out this LIVE stream of the bird feeders in my backyard.
There is a great chance you will see birds eating from one of my favorite finch feeders.
Attracting finches to your feeders starts with using their favorite foods.
Almost all species of finch LOVE eating sunflower, but you have to make sure it’s already shelled. The small beak of most finches doesn’t have enough power to crack open the husk of a sunflower seed.
The only problem with using shelled sunflower kernels is that many other birds LOVE it too. The list of birds that like sunflower includes sparrows (including the dreaded House Sparrow), cardinals, jays, woodpeckers, nuthatches, titmice, chickadees, blackbirds, and more!
2. Nyjer Seed:
Nyjer (also spelled niger) seeds are black, tiny, and commonly referred to as “thistle,” which can be confusing because it is not related to thistle. It hails from a plant in Ethiopia and is primarily used as commercial birdseed.
Nyjer seed is my favorite food to use in my finch feeders!
This is because not many birds eat nyjer seed. The list of birds is small and includes finches (Goldfinches, Pine Siskin, House Finch, etc.), chickadees, and doves. Even squirrels should leave your feeders filled with nyjer seed alone!
It’s relatively expensive by weight, especially when compared to other types of birdseed. But I have found that I don’t have to refill my nyjer feeders nearly as often as my feeders that contain sunflower seeds or a general bird mix.
Nyjer seed lasts longer than other food for two reasons:
1. Only finches, chickadees, and doves will be eating your nyjer seed. Most other birds will leave it alone.
2. Nyjer seed is so small that it takes a while for finches to eat it all. Larger seeds (like sunflowers) take up more room and are emptied from feeders more quickly.
The 4 Best Finch Feeders In My Backyard
First, please know that this tube finch feeder is designed specifically to use with Nyjer seed.
Look at the feeding ports below. Standard tube feeders have large feeding ports so you can use a variety of seed and attract many different species of birds.
Nyjer feeders don’t have large feeding ports. Instead, they have tiny slits above each perch. Only small “thistle” seeds can fit through, AND only birds with small beaks can reach inside to get food out of the feeder, like finches!
My favorite tube nyjer feeder is made by Droll Yankees. It is the one that I use and own. Here is a bit more about it.
- This feeder is made by Droll Yankees who have a fantastic reputation for quality bird products. It’s made in America (as are all their products!) and backed by their Lifetime Warranty, which covers any defective part or any damage caused by squirrels!
- The yellow top and bases are constructed of zinc die-cast metal, which fits on tightly but is easy to remove.
- The transparent tube body is made of hard and durable plastic.
- It has small slits above each perch that only allows nyjer seed to come out, which ensures House Sparrows or other larger birds can’t dump it onto the ground. The expensive niger seed lasts as long as possible since not much is wasted.
- The base is contoured and slopes down to the bottom two feeding areas to help the finches empty the feeder (see picture above).
- Droll Yankees included a long cleaning brush to scrub the very deepest parts of the tube. The brush is helpful since niger finch feeders are notoriously hard to clean thoroughly.
- This version is 23 inches tall, has eight ports/perches and can hold up to 2lbs of seed, which is perfect for my backyard. If you have large flocks of finches that you must feed, Droll Yankees also make a 36-inch (with 20 ports!) version. For smaller yards or to serve as a window feeder, you can try their 8-inch finch feeder.
Niger seed tube feeders all seem to have an issue, and this one is no exception. When water inevitably gets inside, it is hard for it to evaporate, which creates moisture inside the feeder. The bottom 3-4 inches of seed gets spoiled sometimes due to water damage and sometimes I have to blast water from a hose into the feeder to wash out the seed stuck at the bottom.
To help solve the moisture problem, I have been using a product called Feeder Fresh. While filling up my finch feeders, I put some of the granules into the bottom, which absorbs water when it inevitably gets inside.
This screen feeder is fantastic! It provides lots of entertainment and is probably my favorite finch feeder. It’s even featured in my article about the best overall bird feeders for your backyard. READ HERE –> The 14 Best Bird Feeders For Your Backyard
First, it doesn’t have perches like traditional tube feeders because the whole feeder is made out of a metal mesh/screen. Many finches (especially goldfinches) can cling directly to the sides of the feeder and from all angles (even upside down) to pull seeds through the screen.
Seriously, if you didn’t view my live bird cam at the beginning of this post, check it out here. The No/No Screen Finch Feeder is one of the most popular feeders in my backyard.
Other Things That I Like:
- It’s made entirely of metal. There is NO plastic and NO wood, hence the name “No/No.” (No/No is a brand of Perky Pet). Since it’s made entirely of metal, it’s resistant to squirrels (and other critters).
- The mesh wire design provides a large surface area for finches to land and cling. Birds are not limited to just eating from the provided perches or ports; they can eat anywhere on this feeder!
- In the pictures above you will notice two internal baffles inside the mesh tube. These baffles distribute seed evenly throughout the feeder and provide a larger surface area for finches to feed.
- The tray at the bottom catches the seed that falls through the screen. I have observed many goldfinches (and House Finches, chickadees, doves) sitting on this tray to eat the seed that fell out. But all the shells from the niger seed eaten from above collect on this dish too. Every few days I brush off what has accumulated.
It’s easy to clean! The top and base twist right off. Since most of the feeder is mesh wire, there are not many places for seeds to get stuck and accumulate.
- It holds about 1.5 lbs of Nyjer seed. When you go to fill, my recommendation is to do this inside of the container where it’s stored. This way, any seed that falls through the mesh wire isn’t wasted.
- There are tiny holes drilled into the bottom tray to help with drainage. The seed gets wet when it rains due to the open design, but it dries quickly. Just make sure to replace any uneaten seed after 2-3 weeks (depending on weather).
The name says it all – these mesh bags filled with nyjer seed look like socks hanging from your yard!
Some are disposable; some can be refilled. Finches land directly on the sock and pull the food out from the tiny holes. Only birds that can cling to the bag with their feet can use it since there are no perches (like American Goldfinches).
- I always keep a box of these in my shed as a finch feeder back up. You never know when an explosion of finches will visit your yard. Supplying another feeding station at a moments notice is nice.
- They are convenient and come pre-filled with Nyjer seed. Just open and set out for the finches!
- The socks are refillable once you run out of the initial seed. There’s a drawstring at the top. I have found I can refill them a few times before they start ripping or look worn.
- Because the socks suspend in air, when the bag gets wet it dries quickly. Make sure the Nyjer doesn’t get moldy.
- Just like the No/No Screen Finch Feeder above, only birds that can cling to the sides of the sock can access the seed, such as goldfinches and chickadees. The goldfinches in my yard LOVE these socks. It attracts almost the same amount of finches as the other two feeders above.
Don’t expect your two thistle socks that cost $12 to last more than a few refills. They also don’t add anything to the aesthetics of your yard. They do look like a sock hanging with birdseed inside!
The first three finch feeders listed above were all designed only to distribute Nyjer seed. But as we discussed earlier, finches also LOVE sunflower.
It wouldn’t be fair to the finches if we didn’t talk about using a classic tube feeder filled with sunflower kernels! Seriously, there are days when its hard to find a time in my backyard when there isn’t a finch using one of the tube feeders filled with sunflower.
Just remember that goldfinches can only eat sunflower kernels! Their beaks are not strong or big enough to crack open sunflower still in the shell.
Typically, I have at least one Droll Yankees tube feeder featured in my bird feeding station. Check out the LIVE stream of my bird feeding station below to see what I have featured today:
There are lots of excellent tube feeders available. As long as they are filled with sunflower kernels, then they should work at attracting finches.
The two tube feeders that I use the most are both made by Droll Yankees:
6 Frequently Asked Questions About Feeding Finches
1. How large of a finch feeder should I buy? Don’t use a finch feeder that is too big and takes weeks for the seed to get eaten. You don’t want your niger seed to get old and spoil. If the seed still isn’t gone after three weeks, you need to empty and replace. If you are continuously wasting seed, you may want to select a smaller finch feeder or don’t fill your current feeder all the way to the top.
2. Why is there a pile of uneaten Nyjer seed underneath my finch feeders? Don’t think the finches aren’t eating it; you are just seeing the husk. Even though niger is small, it still has a tiny seed inside. Finches slit through the shell to eat the seed and discard the husk.
3. Will Nyjer seed grow? Any Nyjer seed that falls onto the ground won’t grow. It is sterilized, which is a requirement of all Nyjer since it’s imported from overseas. So don’t worry, Nyjer seed does not develop into a thistle weed.
4. Where can I buy Nyjer seed?
Buy Nyjer seed in bulk to save on prices. But only buy 1-2 months supply at a time. Unlike other types of seed, Nyjer has a limited shelf life. If its too old, finches won’t eat it.
- 5 lb of Nyjer seed on Duncraft.com – Order online!
- 5 lb of Nyjer seed on Amazon.com – Order online!
- Or support a local business (my first choice!). I usually go to my local Wild Birds Unlimited. Wild Birds Unlimited works with seed distributors to obtain the freshest Nyjer possible, which is why it’s typically more expensive than the cheapest seed you can find on Amazon. They like it to be oily, once it dries out it is useless to them.
5. How do I avoid spilling Nyjer seed on the ground?
Make sure to purchase a quality seed scoop to avoid messes. It’s terrible to watch Nyjer seed fall helplessly to the ground because the opening of your scoop is bigger than your tube finch feeder. The scoop that I use has a wide mouth to fill my large feeders quickly but also has a small funnel on the other end to fill my tube feeders. A small funnel is helpful and gives excellent precision as I fill my finch feeders.
6. What should I do if the seed in my feeders looks moldy?
If the nyjer seed sits in your finch feeder too long and starts to get moldy, then you need to clean your feeder. Wash and sterilize with a bleach-water mixture (~10% bleach). Make sure to rinse thoroughly with water and let dry completely.
What other tips or advice do you follow when it comes to feeding finches from your feeders?
What is your favorite feeder to use when feeding finches?
Please use the comments below to share your findings. Thanks for reading!