Goldfinches build their nests relatively late in the season when their favorite plants, this-tle and milkweed, go to seed. You’ll find nests from close to the ground to fifteen feet high. The parents line their weed-woven, cup shaped nest with the fuzzy “down” from the dispersing seeds. Sometimes they even use spider webs as lining. Because of this particular habit, they nest in open fields near thistle plants and not in yards where nesting boxes may be available. The gold-finch nest is so tightly woven that it can hold water. A brooding adult must shelter the young with out-spread wings during rainstorms to keep them from drowning.
They typically lay four to six plain bluish-white eggs, from mid-July through August, a bit earlier in the South. Females incubate the eggs for 13 days joined by the males in raising the young. They have one or two clutches per year.
Purple finches are wanderers in woodlands, mountain slopes, park and orchards, settling down only briefly to raise their young. If they happen to settle near a garden, they may use a nest-ing box.
However, house finches, as their name suggests, readily move into birdhouses, or nesting boxes, if they are provided. In fact they easily adapt to whatever nest shelter is available, tree cavities, roof overhangs, hanging flower baskets or gutter downspouts. In the west, they will nest in cactus or desert shrubs. Because they welcome birdhouses erected residential yards and gar-dens, house finches are among our best resident allies against pest insects commonly found in the same habitat. They are easily enticed to set up housekeeping and raise their families nearby.