Feeding In The Landscape
As their stubby beaks suggest, finches are well adapted to eating seeds of all kinds, espe-cially for removing small seeds from their husks. Typically they feed on weed seeds and berries growing at least four feet from the ground. You will seed them in your yard, prowling around the lawn and in among low shrubs and groundcovers.
Goldfinches eat dandelion seeds as well as pine, alder and birch and other weed seeds. Their fondness for thistle seed is legendary. Regurgitated thistle seed is the primary food for nest-ing goldfinches when they are not feeding insects. (This is not the niger seed you buy, but natural thistles). They prefer seeds from composite flowers, such as thistles, dandelions, sunflowers, coreopsis and cosmos. House finches eat the seeds of maple trees and dogwood and cherry buds plus a varied assortment of others. Purple finches eat the seeds of maple trees and the buds of the dogwood and cherry trees. They also eat berries and fruits.
At The Feeder
All finches will visit backyard birdfeeders from time to time during the season to supple-ment their natural diet of insects, seeds and berries. In the winter, those that do not migrate are enthusiastic, noisy regular visitors. They love sunflower seeds and meats, niger thistle seed, suet blocks, canary seed, millet, safflower seeds, peanut hearts, nutmeats, oranges and other fruits and melon seeds. Because they comfortably share habitat with humans they are adaptable to our diets too, and will partake of peanut butter, stale cookies and the occasional leftover vegetable. Like all birds, finches need lots of fresh water year round. It is especially critical to seedeaters to help them digest seed. Finches will visit birdbaths to both drink and bathe.