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Going for the Gold

It’s worth the work to attract these birds to your backyard

The goldfinches in my back yard are a real treat this year, borrowing their brilliant yellow from the Maryland flag our Preakness winner will wear.
    I’ve tried luring them with plastic, tube feeders in past years to no avail.
    This year, I hung two white, mesh feeders, or socks, filled with nyjer seed, and watched the bright birds flock to them.
    Goldfinches are attracted to sunflower seeds, but they prefer the nyjer seed imported from India. Nyjer seed needs to be kept fresh and dry to maintain its oil content.
    I buy in bulk to save a few bucks, since it gets expensive when the birds flock to the feeders, dining daily in dozens. A constant food supply must be served to keep them around.
    Finicky eaters, goldfinches don’t like stale or moldy feed. After it rains, you’ll want to shake feeders free of water, circulating the air and drying out the seed.
    Goldfinches don’t like crowds, either. They will often fly away when other species crowd around a feeder.
    I spread two mesh feeders a few feet apart for better results and more finches.
    “They’re fickle and not loyal to one yard,” said Wild Bird Center of Annapolis owner Julie Curd. “If the feeder runs out, they will find another food source.”
    Her words ring true.
    Ours emptied while we were on vacation, and it took several days before they came back around, slowly, one at a time.
    Last week, Hubby, holding a pair of binoculars, shouted from the kitchen window.
    “My Lord, they’re clinging to the feeders like ticks on a dog,” he said.
    That dozen was our highest count at one time on two feeders.
    But I’ve watched videos and heard stories where that number can be doubled, tripled or more.
    Goldfinches have an interesting flight call with four syllables that can be likened to potato-chip. When they sing, it’s often in chorus
    Spring males are brilliant yellow and shiny black with a bit of white. Females are more dull but identifiable by their conical bill, pointed, notched tail, wing bars and lack of streaking.
    I have a male and female couple who eat together first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening, one on each mesh sock.
    Goldfinches often flock with pine siskins, which frequent our feeders, too.
    I work at attracting these birds, but we’re paid off in gold.