Feeding Finches:
What do Wild Finches Like to Eat?

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A reader asked these questions about feeding finches:

From Jennifer in Las Vegas, NV

I have four socks in my back yard for feeding finches. The finches eat all the seed in two days.

The netted socks are a good size, not small.

1. Is There a Way to Make Nyjer Seed Go Further?

It's rather expensive, can it be made to last longer?

Answer: 3 Tips to Make Nyjer Seed Go Further

You are right, nyjer seed is one of the most expensive bird foods to purchase.

First Tip:  Only purchase high quality nyjer seed that is fresh, which will last longer for a couple of reasons.

1. The seed will be mature and when the Finches break open the outer shell there will be a fully formed seed inside.

This results in the birds getting full with less seed to search through and creating less waste.

When the seed is immature then the bird will have to go through more seed looking for the mature ones that have a full kernel inside.

2. When seed is old, rancid or sometimes diseased, the birds will discard it and look for something more palatable.

This again will cause the birds to shovel the food out of the feeder in search of good seed emptying the feeder wastefully.

If the Finches discover this problem repeatedly they will go elsewhere to feed.

Therefore it is important to use good quality, mature seed to save money.

Second Tip:  Ensure a proper feeder is used designed specifically for nyjer seed only.

A nyjer seed feeder has tiny holes that allow the Finches to pull out one tiny seed at a time.

Any other type of feeder will have seed ports that are too large, which will allow the wind to blow the seed out.

Nyjer seed is so small and light that it takes only a little breeze to empty a feeder quickly.

Third Tip:  You can also buy a mixed seed blend and add more nyjer seed because that is a Goldfinches most favourite food.

House Finches love millet, milo and like Purple Finches safflower seed.

If you can purchase millet, milo and safflower seed separately and mix them with nyjer seed, this will result in a well liked mix for all Finches to enjoy.

This seed mix can be placed in a tube feeder that has regular ports. The millet, milo and safflower seed will hold the nyjer seed and prevent it from blowing away.

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2. Where Should I Purchase Nyjer Seed for Feeding Finches?

Do you know of an inexpensive place to purchase Nyjer seed?

As a result of poor seed quality, purchasing seed from a grocery store or department store at lower prices, for feeding finches, does not always pay off in the long run.

Many of these outlets are more concerned with profit margins, than having the knowledge about a specific product.

Seed which yields empty shells will always be more costly in the long run than paying more at the purchase point and receiving fully ripe food.

I recommend good quality seed companies on this website that provide excellent products. Please checkout these finch food products:

Thistle Seed & Finch Mixed Seed
(Finches love mixed seed too, but maybe not quite as much as straight thistle seed.)

The other option is to find a nature or specific birding store in your area who carry good seed products.

3. Is a Wild Bird Finch Food Mix Good for Feeding Finches?

Is it okay to use the "wild finch food" type of seed that includes other seeds in addition to Nyjer seeds?

This is a good question as it is difficult to get a mix that includes only seeds that will be eaten when feeding Finches.

In addition to what was said earlier, here is a list of seed Finches readily eat:

Nyjer - Goldfinch & House Finch

Black Oil Sunflower - All Finches

White millet - House Finch

Safflower - House Finch & Purple Finch

Milo - House Finch

This is a list of seed Finches do not usually like:

Golden Millet

Red Millet



Canary Seed

Flax, wheat, oats, barley

The seed that is not eaten in a mixed blend will be left to rot, growing mold and often blocking the seed ports making it impossible for the Finches to access the seeds they like.

I would highly recommend purchasing seed Finches readily eat separately and mixing it yourself. Place seed in a tube feeder with seed ports just large enough to allow the largest seed in the mix, to be picked out by the birds, no bigger.

Saying all that, I would also like to add that some birds in an area do acquire a taste for seeds which generally are considered not their favourites.

Don't be afraid to experiment with the wild birds in your area by trying some of the seed Finches generally are considered to not eat. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Feeding finches is a very colourful and pleasant experience!

Thistle Seed Feeders I Recommend & Rate

Thistle Seed & Finch Mixed Seed
(Finches love mixed seed too, but maybe not quite as much as straight thistle seed.)

Discover Different Types of Bird Feeders

  • Thistle Feeders and nyjer seed are just what the “bird” doctor ordered if you want to attract Goldfinches to your yard.
  • Window Feeders are an exciting way to draw backyard birds up close for a good look at their beauty and behaviour.
  • Suet Feeders are a fantastic energy source for wild birds keeping them warm in winter and giving them the fuel they need for activities like territorial defence, mating, raising young.

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