Apr 3, 2017 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, April 2017

Goldfinch Salad

One way to get goldfinches to visit your yard is to grow plants they like.
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American goldfinches do not visit feeders as often in the summer as they do at other times of year. One way to get goldfinches to visit your yard is to grow plants they like. Generally, the goldfinch is a seedeater, preferring seeds from birch and alder trees, burdock, chickweed, and dandelion. But they also eat the leaves of Swiss chard and beets.

If you plant a vegetable garden, you might want to add a row of beets or red chard just for the goldfinches. They will feed on it all summer. While goldfinches do eat the leaves of white Swiss chard, they seem to prefer red-stalked varieties. Because they take small bits of leaves, you will see little holes throughout the entire leaf.

Why goldfinches eat chard and other greens is not known, but perhaps it is because Swiss chard is high in calcium. Other members of the finch family are known to nibble on mineral matter containing calcium, including gravel along roads where calcium chloride has been spread to melt ice.



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  • #18 in the Gallery is misidentified as a Tree Sparrow, instead of Tree Swallow.
    by Ron, Mon, 23 Apr 2018
  • yep i do the microwave too....they don't break down in our compost so the birds get them!
    by ecumam2, Wed, 18 Apr 2018
  • As you probably know, sunflower seed hulls have a bio-chemical in them, (allelopathic), which keeps any other seeds from sprouting, in the same area. I have used this fact, to a purpose. With a large build up, each year (& yes, it is a bare spot!), I rake up the "bounty" & spread them on areas of bulbs & perennials to keep the annual weeds down. It's also helpful near blue squill bulbs, which drop seeds through the fence that divides a perennial garden, from the lawn , where they are welcome to naturalize. The garden can be over run with them, so sunflower hulls can keep the sprouting down.
    by Plntlady, Tue, 17 Apr 2018
  • I do this in a small garden, near our road, where winter road sand can build up & bury the small, low-growing plants that live there. In spring I just pick up the burlap & shake it back onto the road, before the road crew comes by with the street sweeper, in spring.
    by Plntlady, Tue, 17 Apr 2018
  • Thanks, now I can not worry so much. It's April 17, here in NE Vt. & is snowing big snowflakes. Yesterday we have scary, high winds & it's refusing to be spring. A phoebe, which was so puffed up I didn't recognize it, except for it's insectivore beak, showed up near the feeders, on my porch. It flew to a low branch, in a sugar maple & has been huddled there for quite a while. I was sure it was a phoebe when I observed it's tail bobbing, when first landing. I assume it is now being still, trying to reserve body heat. I have a frozen, cut pomegranate, hanging from the porch & we have an ample supply of sumac berries & other native fruiting plants, so hopefully it will find what it needs.... Also spotted a brown creeper, on the trunk of one of our big, old sugar maples, this morning.
    by Plntlady, Tue, 17 Apr 2018