Idaho is fortunate to be home to a rich abundance of bird species from large birds of prey like the Golden Eagle to small songbirds like the American Goldfinch. Drawing birds into your backyard can be an easy way to bring the family together for the relaxing yet interactive hobby of birdwatching. Although the finch family includes a wide array of species, the practice of feeding finches is quite standard whether your backyard resides in Idaho or somewhere else in North America. Drawing finches to your home can be easy with a few helpful tips.
Tips for Hosting Finches
Like all animals, finches define their home range based on the availability of resources. Finches will choose to inhabit areas that meet their needs, such as habitats with plenty of food, water, and coverage, over areas that offer them little. Ideally, if you provide finches with a consistent supply of easily accessible food and water in a secure place in your yard, the finches will identify this as a prime habitat to which they will be loyal as long as the resources are available. With that being said, it is important to maintain a constant supply of food and water. If these resources run out, the finches may drift away to look for “greener grass on the other side”.
Providing the Resources
When attracting birds, the first thing that comes to mind is food supply. However, the first priority of wild birds is to seek out a water source. Therefore, first and foremost be sure that you provide a shallow bird bath of clean water, which will allow the birds to drink and bathe. As with any resource, be sure to position the water supply in a location that is secure from potential predators and competitors, such as cats, squirrels, and larger birds.
After establishing a water source, your next focus should be selecting a proper feed. The dietary requirements of finches depend on the season. In warmer months, finches can forage for fruits and some insects in addition to their primary seed and grass-based diet. In cooler months resources can be scarce, but it is in those cool months that they require more energy (food) to maintain body heat and function. Below is a guideline of nutritional needs throughout the course of the year:
- Zamzows Nyjer Thistle
High oil content gives the birds extra energy while the temperature is cool and the birds are preparing for summer
Seed is heat treated to prevent germination if seed is spilled
Primarily attracts: Goldfinches, Purple Finches, Pine Siskins, House Finches, Redpolls, and Crossbills
- Zamzows Custom Wild Bird Seed
Blend of black oil sunflower, white millet, nature’s nuts stripe sunflower, and cracked corn to attract a wide variety of finches
Primarily attracts: Finches, Mourning Doves, Juncos, Grosbeaks, Sparrows, Jays, and Quail
- Zamzows Wild Finch Seed
Blend of golden german millet, Siberian millet, white millet, canary seed, nyjer thistle, and sunflower hearts to specifically attract finches
Primarily attracts: Goldfinches, House Finches, Purple Finches, Crossbills and Pine Siskins
- Zamzows Black Oil Sunflower Seed
Exclusively black oil sunflower seeds, which are high in oil and protein content, providing a source of extra energy for birds as they enter a period of cooler temperature. Primarily attracts: Finches, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Grosbeaks, Sparrows, Titmice, Robins, Towhees, and Cardinals
- Zamzows Sunflower Hearts
Exclusively sunflower hearts, providing extra energy with its high oil and protein content, without the mess of leftover shells
Primarily attracts: Finches, Chickadees, Sparrows, and Nuthatches
It is important that the feed(s) you choose to offer your birds are accessible to the birds by using the appropriate feeder for the type of seed being used. For thin seeds, such as Nyjer Thistle, a thistle sock is needed. This permeable sock can be filled with Nyjer Thistle and hung from an awning or branch. Birds will cling to the side of the sock and slip the thistle out. This discourages larger birds from stealing the finches’ seed, keeps the thin seeds contained, and maintains freshness. For larger seeds, such as Wild Finch Seed, Black Oil Seed, etc., offer these in a gravity feeder that has multiple openings with perches and a collection tray. There are many different varieties that are suitable for finches. Hang your feeder in a location where the birds will feel safe to rest and feed for extended periods of time, such as in a nearby tree or suspended from the awning of a porch. Be careful to give the feeders distance from potentially dangerous windows and glass doors, but make sure that the location you select will be visible from the place you intend to do your bird watching. With any feeders you may use, maintain cleanliness by periodically rinsing out the feeder. Moisture and excessive use can lead to mold and bacterial growth, which can be