How to Attract Yellow Finches

Two Parts:Creating an Attractive Habitat for Yellow FinchesProviding Desirable Feed for Yellow Finches

The yellow finch, also known as the American goldfinch or by the scientific name Spinus tristis, is a small bird native to North America that features bright yellow plumage (feathers) and black and white trimmings along its wings, tail and head. [1] A favorite among bird watchers for its beautiful colors, pleasant song, and acrobatic, undulating flight pattern, the yellow finch is a wonderful bird to attract to your backyard. By creating an attractive habitat and providing feed preferred by yellow finches, you can hopefully attract these fine feathered friends to your backyard or garden.

Part 1
Creating an Attractive Habitat for Yellow Finches

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    Plant shrubs and trees for nesting or find an area near you that is already grown. Yellow finches are shy birds and prefer creating nests towards the top of thick shrubs that are near open fields or rivers, and generally not deep in the forest.[2]
    • Locate a large, secluded space in your yard suitable for planting, preferably near an open grassy field or stream, and in a location with lots of sun.
    • Plant a mix of deciduous trees and shrubs, such as oak or elm, and evergreens, such as pine, that grow between four and 30 feet (1.2 to 9.1 m) high.
    • Space trees and shrubs so that the finches can be easily seen and won’t feel overcrowded.
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    Plant wild flowers, tall grasses and thistles. Yellow finches are attracted to wildflowers and thistles for food, but they also use woody material and fluffy down from thistles, milkweed, cattails, and other grasses to create their nests.
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    Add a water feature. Yellow finches prefer nesting near a water source for drinking and bathing.
    • Install an attractive birdbath or fountain. You may wish to use one with circulating water to keep water fresh and inviting to the finches.
    • Create your yellow finch habitat near a stream or river if possible.

Part 2
Providing Desirable Feed for Yellow Finches

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    Choose an appropriate bird feeder for yellow finches. Finches are classified as “cling and peck” feeders, meaning that they prefer cling to the end of flowers or grass stocks to eat in the wild. So, choose a feeder that allows them to hang or cling on the side at varying angles and avoid feeders with perches.
    • Use a mesh sock feeder. Sock feeders can be purchased from most pet supply shops, home improvement stores and online, or can be created at home using discarded mesh fabric or pantyhose that have been sewn or tied at the end.
    • Select a plastic tube feeder. A wide range of plastic tube feeders specifically designed for finches can be found at pet stores or online.
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    Fill your feeder with seeds that yellow finches prefer.
    • Add niger thistle seeds, a favorite with yellow finches.[3]
    • Include seeds from maximillian sunflowers, dandelions, millet, flax and goldenrod as well.
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    Place your feeder in a safe and visible location.
    • Protect yellow finches from predators and other animals that might eat their food or them, by hanging your feeder from a tree or pole between six and eight feet from the ground.
    • Hang your yellow finch feeder away from feeders for different types of birds as yellow finches are shy eaters.
    • Place your feeder in a location that is visible for you to watch the yellow finches from a distance without disturbing them.


  • Thoroughly mix new seeds into your yellow finch feeder every month or two to keep the feed fresh and avoid clumping from moisture.
  • Don’t deadhead flowers in your garden or backyard, especially marigolds and zinnias, as their seeds attract yellow finches even when the flower is dead.
  • Alternate refilling your feeder from the top and the bottom to keep the seeds from packing together too tightly.


  • Predators of the yellow finch include cats, squirrels, blue jays, hawks and snakes, so try to choose a habitat where these animals are less likely to endanger the yellow finches.

Things You’ll Need

  • Niger thistle seeds and other seeds preferred by yellow finches
  • Mesh or plastic finch feeder
  • Birdbath or fountain
  • Trees, shrubs and wildflowers if planting new habitat

Article Info

Categories: Birdwatching