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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  • Goldfinches will continue as long as Swiss chard is available. I'm watching one eating chard right now (mid-November in Vermont).
    by Brian Tremback, Sun, 14 Nov 2021
  • Birds are on the decline though sunflowers are rarely touched and for weeks hardly .eaten. I'll try a few sparing nuts on the table and a fat ball broken for jackdaws and tits but mealworms were a summer favourite being my go to choice
    by Paul Harabaras, Thu, 04 Nov 2021
  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021
  • This breaks my heart. God strengthen your spirit and comfort your heart.I am fortunate to be taking a vacation next month, hopefully before sky high inflation hits and I can no longer afford it.
    by Ironweeds, Fri, 27 Aug 2021