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Want American Goldfinches in your yard? You’ve got to treat them right! These beautiful little birds will eat sunflower hearts like many other backyard birds. But their favorite food is nyjer seed (sometimes known as “thistle” even though it really isn’t.) To serve nyjer, you need the right feeders. I have four Aspects Quick-Clean Nyjer Feeders I like very much. Here is a review.
Aspects Quick-Clean Nyjer Feeder
These feeders are well made. I purchased three over the course of eight months and eventually one more because they’ve been so popular with goldfinches. They’ve performed beautifully for several years now, through summer heat, rain and snow. It’s definitely a feeder I would purchase again.
Like many tube feeders, the main section is a clear plastic tube. The tube is pierced with very thin slots with a perch below each one. You might think birds would never be able to access such tiny slits, but goldfinch beaks are fine with them.
The thin slots are an advantage in bad weather because there is less of an opening for water to get in. (You should still check, giving the feeders a shake, after heavy rain, to be sure no damp has gotten in to cake the seed.)
Filling The Feeder With Seed
The plastic tube is topped with a metal cap. It slides on a U-shaped metal hanging loop. To fill the feeder, take it down from where it is hanging, slide the metal cap up along the hanger loop, and pivot it aside (above). Pour in more seed. Replace the cap. It’s quick and easy.
Removing the Feeder Bottom
The base that fits on the bottom is a plastic and metal combination. The plastic portion on top fits up inside the tube and is angled like an upside down dimensional V to deflect the seed so it doesn’t get trapped in the bottom to get old and moldy.
The base’s metal portion has two black plastic buttons that you push in when you want to remove the bottom to clean the feeder. Push these buttons in and little black tabs near them retract from holes in the tube. This lets you remove the base. (The feeder is easy to clean. Check out my post on How to Quickly Clean Tube Feeders.)
The feeder opens very easily this way. I only once had a slight problem once in all the years I’ve had these when one button got wet and froze so it wouldn’t push in. A quick ten-second warming with a hairdryer took care of that.
You could alternatively flip the feeder over and fill it with seed from the bottom by taking off the base in this way. If you do this, be sure to push the top looping hanger down to the cap and hold the cap on when you turn it upside down. That way it doesn’t pop off and spill seed.
Helping Goldfinches Find the Feeder
If you purchase one of these feeders (or any new feeder really), it is important to realize that it may take the birds a few weeks to find it. (See my post on Will Birds Find My Feeder?.) This is especially true of feeders that appeal to very specific birds.
I bought my first one in early June. It hung there unloved for a week or more. I tried moving to in a new location and waited. Still no goldfinches. Then I tried a third location and purchased fresh nyjer in case what I had was stale. Nothing.
Leading Goldfinches to the Feeder
What turned the tide was a couple goldfinches attracted to my yard by my flower garden. They especially liked my zinnias and some sunflowers that had planted themselves with dropped seed.
Once I saw that first goldfinches in the yard, I created a trail to lead them around the corner of the house to where the nyjer feeder hung. I put up an inexpensive nyjer sock feeder on the little tree next to the flower garden. I put another at the corner of the house, each with a yellow ribbon tied to it.
The goldfinches found the first sock feeder when they returned the next day and the second on the following day. Then they found the tube feeder around the corner and told all their friends. My yard has been overrun most days of the year with tiny little goldfinches ever since!
Even in the winter, you can still get goldfinches if they winter in your area. Keep in mind that birds will often move around when the weather is bad, particularly with snow storms. You’ll often see new birds in the yard at these times. Be patient and provide fresh food to entice them on cold grey days.
Why Not Sock Feeders?
You might wonder why you couldn’t just use the sock type feeders and skip the tube feeders. You can, and this is how I started feeding goldfinches, but they are very exposed to the elements.
During periods where you have a lot of snow or rain, seed in them can easily become wet. In cold or humid weather especially, the seed doesn’t dry out and can go bad.
Trying to keep fresh dry seed in these sock feeders can be surprisingly challenging. In the end, you waste a lot of seed. Used every day for months, the socks get worn, dirty and start leaking seed.
You might use them on special occasions when goldfinches are in an eating frenzy before a storm and need more feeder space. But these days, I use only these tube feeders for nyjer.
Large vs Medium Feeders
I have four Aspects Nyjer tube feeders. Three are the large size that seat ten birds. The other one is the medium size that seats eight. There is also a small size for six birds.
The prices for the various sizes are fairly close and goldfinches tend to travel in a flock. So personally, I’d go for the large size for just a few dollars more, to be able to seat a few more birds.
Hanging The Feeders
Squirrels are not nyjer fans. So these feeders don’t really need a squirrel baffle and can simply be hung from a tree limb. You might potentially slide the loop hanger over a short tree limb or the arm on a pole. But a hook makes things much easier. (Buy hooks at bird stores, on Amazon, or even in some well-stocked home improvement store bird feeding sections.)
Aspects also makes trays to add to the bottom of these feeders, but I haven’t tried them. And they offer weather domes to protect the tube feeders from rain or snow. I haven’t used these either.
Other Birds on These Feeders
While goldfinches are the main birds on these feeders, there are a few other birds that will use them too. During irruption years, Pine Siskins can be found eating nyjer here with the goldfinches. House Finches and Purple Finches also sometimes eat nyjer at these feeders, although they are more often seen on the sunflower heart feeders. And in the winter months, it is not unusual to see various sparrows and Mourning Doves hanging around under the nyjer feeders eating fallen seed.
I Like These Nyjer Feeders
I am very pleased with these feeders. The medium and one of the large feeders were purchased from Amazon and the second two (large) feeders from my local bird store, Mother Nature’s. If you decide you’d like to get one from Amazon you will find it here: Aspects 403 Quick-Clean Thistle Tube Feeder, Large – Antique Brass. While the link says “large”, you can change the size to purchase the medium or small feeder by clicking the appropriate button on the page on Amazon.
Enjoy your goldfinches!
More on Putting Up A New Feeder
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