Bringing goldfinches to your garden

Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis) are always a complete delight to see. Their photogenic red faces, bright golden wings and incessant chirruping make them welcome guests on our feeders!

Their approach can be predicted from some distance with their pinging and twittering calls heard before they descend onto your feeding station. Goldfinches are extremely social creatures and you will often find them in noisy flocks named charms – we can’t think of a more apt word to describe a group of such beautiful little birds. They will flock together shortly after the breeding season has finished, with charms sometimes holding thousands of excited goldfinches!

The UK has seen a huge rise in this garden visitor in recent years with over 500,000 breeding pairs now recorded here. We have given them some affectionate names over the years which reflect our adoration such as goldie, gold linnet, thistle finch, redcap and King Harry.

But what can you do to bring goldfinches to your garden?

(Getty Images) Goldfinch looking around

Goldfinch fact file

Size: 12 cm long

Weight: 14-17 g

Male/female: Look very similar, both with yellow wing fringes and a red face mask. Males have a longer beak and red face feathers which extend behind the eye

Breeding season: late April onwards

Eggs: White with brown speckles. Goldfinches lay 2-3 broods of 3-7 eggs

Incubation: 10-14 days

Fledging: Leave nest in 14-17 days. Young goldfinches do not have the red face of their parents which they acquire after their first moult

Typical lifespan: 2 years

Nutrition: Fine seed like thistle, teasel, dandelions and niger


Attracting goldfinches

  • A garden rich in small seed heads will entice eager goldfinches. Thistles are a particular favourite, with this even reflected in their Latin name (Carduus means thistle). Their thin beak allows them to poke into tiny spaces to reach these fine seeds with precision; males have a better advantage with their longer bills.
  • If you have limited space for wildflowers in your garden, fill your feeders with a range of niger, sunflower hearts and seed mix. Niger is perfect for the nimble beaks of finches to handle.
  • Goldfinches love to nest at the ends of tree branches so if your garden is overlooked by these you are in for a treat! They particularly like fruit trees where they will often feed.
  • Create lots of safe places to perch so the entire charm can enjoy your garden. This could be fence posts or panels that are not overshadowed by trees or anywhere predators could be hiding. A feeding station with plenty of feeders and a bird table ensures every finch gets their fill!

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