I have been feeding the wild birds in the garden for many years. Being in a small village surrounded by a good mix of fields, hedgerows and woodland means I get to see quite a variety of birds.

Goldfinches have been regular visitors to the bird bath for a quick drink. Usually in pairs they rarely stay very long. A quick sip and they are off.

Elizabeth had bought a nyjer seed feeder for her garden in the hope of encouraging more goldfinches to her garden. She has the odd goldfinch drinking at her bird bath. As you no doubt know, nyjer seeds are a favourite with goldfinches and the feeder is designed such that only goldfinches (or siskins) will feed at it. Elizabeth was having no luck, so I was given the feeder to try in my garden.

Within a day a pair of goldfinches were feeding, usually on opposite sides of the feeder. There are 4 feeding perches, two lower and two higher. The pairs of perches are 180 degrees apart. After a couple more days there were 4 goldfinches. But they were not using all the perches, only two goldfinches would feed at once. If another tried to land on a feeding perch a fight started immediately. It rather seems that goldfinches will only feed with their mate. Other goldfinches are driven off.

It was interesting to see these fights as the birds climb upwards in a spiral beating wings against each other, until one decides to leave the area. Many times a day there were fights.

Today I topped up the seeds and I noticed that the goldfinch is a messy feeder and drops a lot of seed on the ground. Oh no, more weeds to be removed.

Later, I noticed that there were 5 goldfinches. The usual fights ensued, then a sixth goldfinch arrived. Then for some reason a couple of the goldfinches moved to the grass and started eating the spilled seed there, they were joined by the other pair. So 2 goldfinches on the feeder and 4 on the ground. The odd thing was that the 4 on the ground didn’t mind each other’s company, had they been feeding or attempting to feed that close on the feeder there would have been a fight. So they can be social when the circumstances are right. Maybe there is no competition on the ground whereas they can see there are a limited number of feeding perches on the feeder. I don’t know the answer. But the goldfinch record for my garden currently stands at 6.


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