The 5 Best Finch Feeders for Thistle Seed – A Guide and Review

Sharing is caring!

Finches are common visitors to bird feeders and enjoyable to watch throughout the year, as they’re often year-round visitors in many locations. American Goldfinches and other common finches like Purple, Cassin’s, and House finches are year-round residents as far north as the Canadian border in much of their U.S. range.

Knowing how and what to feed these backyard beauties can make your yard a bird-watching hotspot throughout the year.

Product Name
Best Budget Feeder
Ointo Garden Tube Bird Feeder
Best Small Feeder
Gtongoko Metal Tube Bird Feeder
Best Mesh Feeder
Mr. Canary Yellow Finch Sock Feeders
Image
Ointo Garden Tube Bird Feeder with 6 Feeding Ports, Premium Hard Plastic Outdoor Birdfeeder with Steel Hanger(Pack of 2)
Gtongoko Metal Tube Bird Feeder for Outside Hanging 11 Inch 4 Ports - Wild Bird feeders for Outdoors Hanging, Weatherproof and Water Resistant
Mr. Canary Yellow 'Pair of Socks' Finch Sock Feeders, 2pk, Seed-Filled All-Season Feeders, 24oz Total
Customer Rating
Material
Made From Plastic
Made From Plastic, Metal
Made From Nylon
Mounting Type
Hanging Mount
Hanging Mount
Hanging Mount
Weight
Weight: 15.5 ounces
Weight: 1.12 pounds
Weight: 1.87 pounds
Size
4.4 x 7.7 x 15.4 inches
11.77 x 6.18 x 6.02 inches
5.6 x 2.3 x 10.3 inches
Best Budget Feeder
Product Name
Ointo Garden Tube Bird Feeder
Image
Ointo Garden Tube Bird Feeder with 6 Feeding Ports, Premium Hard Plastic Outdoor Birdfeeder with Steel Hanger(Pack of 2)
Customer Rating
Material
Made From Plastic
Mounting Type
Hanging Mount
Weight
Weight: 15.5 ounces
Size
4.4 x 7.7 x 15.4 inches
Best Small Feeder
Product Name
Gtongoko Metal Tube Bird Feeder
Image
Gtongoko Metal Tube Bird Feeder for Outside Hanging 11 Inch 4 Ports - Wild Bird feeders for Outdoors Hanging, Weatherproof and Water Resistant
Customer Rating
Material
Made From Plastic, Metal
Mounting Type
Hanging Mount
Weight
Weight: 1.12 pounds
Size
11.77 x 6.18 x 6.02 inches
Best Mesh Feeder
Product Name
Mr. Canary Yellow Finch Sock Feeders
Image
Mr. Canary Yellow 'Pair of Socks' Finch Sock Feeders, 2pk, Seed-Filled All-Season Feeders, 24oz Total
Customer Rating
Material
Made From Nylon
Mounting Type
Hanging Mount
Weight
Weight: 1.87 pounds
Size
5.6 x 2.3 x 10.3 inches

Last update on 2022-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What Do Finches Eat?

Finches, especially Goldfinches, love thistle, also called Nyjer or niger seed. This tiny seed comes from the African yellow daisy, and while it may share the name, it is not related to the thistle plant.

Whatever you call it, this seed is the top food every bird watcher wanting to attract beautiful finches should know. You can purchase it on its own or in a combination mix usually marketed as a finch blend. Finch blends often contain hulled sunflower kernels/chips. Finches may be able to open black oil sunflower seeds, but striped sunflower seed shells are too thick for them to crack. 

Vendors will occasionally include canary seed in finch blends, but if you’re mixing your bird seed, some people suggest skipping canary seed, as sparrows and cowbirds enjoy it more than finches do. Bird seed manufacturer Kaytee leaves out canary seed in its Waste Free Finch Blend.

If you already have a finch feeder ready to go, consider its features before you buy bird seed. Some seed feeders only have holes big enough for tiny thistle seeds to fit through, while others have sufficiently large ports for sunflower kernels. If yours is the former, you’ll want to buy pure thistle seed with no added products.

If you’ve got your finch blend or thistle seed ready to go, you just need the right feeder to put it in.

What is the Best Type of Finch Feeder?

You could potentially use a bird feeder you already have but aren’t currently using. As a bird enthusiast, sustainability is likely an important factor to you, and as long as you’ve got the right seeds, birds should eventually find their way to it. 

However, finches can be out-competed by larger backyard garden birds, so a feeder intended for finches might be the right choice, depending on what types of birds are in your backyard. A typical tray feeder frequented by larger songbirds can be challenging for finches to access.

Finches and other smaller varieties of birds like chickadees, towhees, and buntings love thistle. Still, it’s not a favorite of the larger birds that can dominate a feeder. Therefore, a thistle feeder can provide finches with their own safe space.

Finch feeders often come in tube shapes, with tiny feeding openings that mean only small beaks can go in, and only small seeds can come out.

Some just have slits along the sides, whereas others are made of metal or fabric mesh that allows birds to pick out seeds from any place along the feeder.

Best Finch Feeder Models

Ointo Garden Tube Bird Feeder

Sale
Ointo Garden Tube Bird Feeder with 6 Feeding Ports, Premium Hard Plastic Outdoor Birdfeeder with Steel Hanger(Pack of 2)
  • WELL MATERIAL. High quality hard plastic case, light and strong.
  • LARGER CAPACITY. Our bird feeder can store more food, 6 hole ventilation design, can be used for more birds at the same time.An...
  • AFTER CAREFUL INVESTIGATION. 15 inches in length and 3.15 inches in diameter,The right size gives you a more intuitive feeding...

Last update on 2022-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This Ointo Garden tube feeder includes six holes and perches for feeding. Measuring 15 inches tall and 3.15 inches in diameter, these feeders hold a suitable amount of food.

While many finch feeders are meant for thistle only, this model has ports that can dispense larger seeds, like sunflower chips or kernels often included in a pre-mixed finch blend.

Finches will only be able to feed at the six feeding stations, so if you’re expecting more than six finches at your feeder at once, you may want to take that into consideration.

A relatively inexpensive feeder, it can be easily replaced if it gets worn from the weather or damaged by birds and squirrels over time. Its plastic construction is a bit more easily damaged than a metal model, so that may be something you want to take into consideration.

The top and bottom of the feeder both pop off for easy filling and cleaning.

Gtongoko Metal Tube Bird Feeder

Gtongoko Metal Tube Bird Feeder for Outside Hanging 11 Inch 4 Ports - Wild Bird feeders for Outdoors Hanging, Weatherproof and Water Resistant
  • 【MIXED FOOD FEEDER】The tube of the bird feeder is 11 inches long and 2.75inch wide. It can hold up to 1.2lbs, suitable for...
  • 【DURABLE METAL】 With the aluminum casting parts, the bird feeder can effectively avoid rust and fading, withstand chewing or...
  • 【CIRCULAR TRAY】There is a tray on the metal bird feeder’s bottom to prevent the seeds from actually falling to the...

Last update on 2022-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This feeder has four ports made of aluminum, with ports big enough to fit seed mixes of sunflower chips and kernels, similar to the Ointo model above.

This feeder is smaller, at 11 inches tall and 2.75 inches wide, although the smaller size and metal ports might be preferable to some birdwatchers.

While it’s quite small, this feeder has a tray at the base of the feeder to collect falling seeds. It won’t catch everything, as it’s not big and birds are messy, but it could keep some leftover seeds off the ground.

Jacobi Jayne Flo Bird Feeder

Last update on 2022-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This bird feeder comes in three sizes that are 16 inches, 22 inches, or 28 inches tall. The smaller feeders come in at a smaller price point as well, and some people may prefer a slightly smaller feeder, although the larger feeder can provide food for more finches at one time.

The tallest feeder includes six feeding ports just big enough for birds to sneak thistle seeds out.

This product isn’t for finch mixes that include sunflower, as the ports aren’t big enough for birds to get those shells out. If you’re using a feeder like this one, stick to thistle seed to avoid clogging up your feeder.

It’s dishwasher safe, and all parts are separate for easy cleaning, which is especially important to do often when it comes to finch feeders, as finches can easily spread diseases amongst one another at feeding stations.

Mr. Canary Yellow Finch Sock Feeders

Mr. Canary Yellow 'Pair of Socks' Finch Sock Feeders, 2pk, Seed-Filled All-Season Feeders, 24oz Total
  • 2PK, Seed-Filled Feeders
  • Sterilized Bird Seed Won't Infest
  • Colorful, Fun Appearance

Last update on 2022-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Some people claim that birds prefer mesh feeders to traditional tube feeders. While this observation hasn’t been rigorously tested, it’s worth a little experiment in your backyard to see what works best for you.

Researchers at the University of Florida say that while House finches and American Goldfinches will still visit sock-style feeders, they’re not preferred by titmice and nuthatches, so that might also be a consideration.

Birds will tear holes in sock-style finch feeders with their bills over time, and it will need frequent replacement, especially in wet weather. However, they don’t require frequent cleaning like a tube finch feeder does, but replacement costs can add up over time. Thistle socks aren’t for everyone, but they’re definitely another good option.

Brome Squirrel Buster

Squirrel Buster Finch Squirrel-proof Bird Feeder w/4 Metal Perches & 8 Feeding Ports, 2.4-pound Thistle/Nyjer Seed Capacity
  • Worth its weight in Gold(finches)!
  • TRULY SQUIRREL-PROOF: Openings in the shroud align with the feeding ports, providing birds access to the food. When a squirrel...
  • PAYS FOR ITSELF IN SAVED SEED: Squirrels can no longer steal your wild bird seed. Over a short period of time this adds up to...

Last update on 2022-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This feeder is on the high end of the price spectrum, but if pesky squirrels are a problem for you, this feeder claims to solve that problem.

This feeder has a metal cage-like encasement around an inner tube of thistle seeds. There are openings in the shroud for birds to access feeding ports, but when the weight of a squirrel pulls down on it, the metal shroud starts to cover up the holes, and in theory, squirrels can’t access the seeds inside.

Birds can grab onto the wire mesh without any problems. Some smaller animals like chipmunks may also be light enough to avoid pulling the shroud down, but squirrels will have problems.

It’s on the larger side as far as finch feeders go, with a height of almost 20 inches.

Like some of the other feeders mentioned so far, this feeder is intended for thistle seeds only. The holes in the inner tube aren’t big enough for sunflower seeds.

How to Clean Finch Feeders

Cleaning all bird feeders is important, but cleaning finch feeders deserves a little extra emphasis.

Finches are known to contract Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis, also commonly referred to as House finch eye disease. While it’s most common in House finches, it can also affect other bird species like Goldfinches, Purple finches, and Evening grosbeaks, according to Project FeederWatch, a collaboration between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Birds Canada.

Conjunctivitis in humans is commonly called pink eye, and many of the symptoms are the same for finches. Birds will develop red, crusty, or swollen eyes.

In humans, pink eye is an annoyance but usually resolves itself fairly quickly with the help of antibiotics. It can be a bigger problem for birds. While some recover, others’ eyes will swell shut, and they can quickly die from starvation or predation.

This is not the only disease that affects birds like finches, and feeders can be a significant source of disease spread. One study by Virginia Tech and Oxford University found that birds in high-density feeder groups had significantly higher pathogen transmission than those in lower-density feeder groups. With this in mind, it’s important to clean feeders regularly. 

For sock feeders, it’s probably best to just throw out the feeder once birds have started to tear holes in it and replace it with a new one. 

For metal or plastic feeders, clear out any uneaten food, dirt, grass, or debris from the feeder. Then thoroughly wash the feeder with warm water and dish soap, using a brush or rag to clear out anything sticking to the feeder.

Then, use a ten-percent bleach solution (nine parts water to one part bleach). Scrub the feeder with the solution for a couple of minutes (any longer is unnecessary) and rinse it off thoroughly to ensure no bleach is left over.

Dry your feeder completely, as leftover moisture in bird feeders can cause bacteria to proliferate. Once your feeder is completely dry, you can fill it and put it out in your yard again.

Project FeederWatch recommends cleaning your feeders once every two weeks, more often when birds use the feeder heavily or during warm, wet conditions. You may want to clean your finch feeders slightly more often, knowing the disease transmission risks present for finches.

Also, remember to clean out the area below your feeder, as bird feces and discarded seeds can also cause a buildup of bacteria.

Where to Place Finch Feeders

Put finch feeders in the vicinity of trees or shrubbery. While you don’t have to put it immediately next to a bush, placing your finch feeders somewhere not entirely out in the open will help the birds stay safe from predators like hawks.

The Springfield, Illinois Wild Birds Unlimited Shop also recommends placing finch feeders away from other feeders. Finches are generally small birds. For example, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the average goldfinch weighs between 0.4 and 0.7 ounces. Birds like Blue jays can be as much as seven times larger, so spacing out your feeders gives finches their own space away from bigger backyard birds.

Leave Your Feeders Up Year-Round

If you live in a warm climate, you’re probably used to leaving out your feeders all year. However, if you’re from a northern U.S. state or Canada, most of your backyard birds will depart for warmer weather in the fall each year and return in the spring.

However, finches are one of the few birds that will remain in one place all year, with a few exceptions.

Four of the most common finches with ranges all across the United States are Pine siskins, American goldfinches, Purple finches, and House finches. Depending on their location, western bird watchers may be more familiar with a variety of birds like the Lesser goldfinch or Cassin’s finch. Some bird watchers may also frequently see finches such as Rosy-finches, Pine grosbeaks, or redpolls.

Wherever you are in the United States, most finches stay put during the winter months, when food options are usually less plentiful. You can use the same feeders and thistle seeds in the winter as you would any other time of year.

If you’re in an area that receives regular snowfall, clear your feeders of snow after every storm and make sure that your feeders aren’t filling up with moisture that can cause food to go bad.

If birds aren’t getting to the food regularly enough before it rains or snows, switching to a smaller feeder or putting out less food may be helpful.

What Else Can I Do to Attract Finches?

The presence of seeds is, without a doubt, a key factor in attracting many bird species to your yard. However, creating a bird-friendly yard is about more than just bird feeders.

Among the other factors that contribute to a great bird, habitat is an abundance of shelter, available water sources, and a diversity of food options.

Plant native flora and avoid using pesticides on your lawn. While we think of most birds, finches included, as seed-eaters, they also eat insects in warm months. A diverse yard full of plants and insects goes a long way to making sure birds find a suitable home in your yard.

Providing water that isn’t frozen in the winter or too hot in the summer is also an excellent way to ensure that finches spend their winters in your yard. A heated bird bath with fresh, clean water can be a gamechanger in providing suitable winter habitat for finches. 

Make sure to replace the water regularly and wash bird baths often to prevent spreading diseases. The National Audubon Society suggests replacing the water in your bird bath every other day. The organization suggests a solution of nine parts vinegar to one part water to clean them.

With the addition of thistle seeds in a feeder and a few small changes to your yard, you can create a paradise for finches and all sorts of other backyard birds.

Happy birding!

Sharing is caring!

Jacob Swanson

Jacob Swanson is a writer and wildlife photographer born and raised in Wisconsin and currently based in Salt Lake City. Since graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his work has appeared in over a dozen different web and print outlets. In his free time, he’s on a personal quest to visit every U.S. national park and see as many wildlife species as possible. His favorite birds are whooping and sandhill cranes.