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threeofhardts

Where or where have the Goldfinch gone?

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Up until today, any time I'd watch the birds at the feeders there would be 20 or more Goldfinches either at the feeders or under them or fighting with each other.  After I got home from work this afternoon there was not one Goldfinch in site.  Not one.  I have fed birds in the past, although I wasn't as enthusiastic as I am now, but I can remember seeing Goldfinch throughout the winter months.  Does anyone have any idea where my Goldfinch have gone?

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I am in Wisconsin, so i would imagine it can't be all that different from Michigan.  In my experience, a lot of the Goldfinches migrate south in winter, but at the same time, some of the more northerly ones also migrate south, which equates to ending up here.  In fall, I stop feeding thistle seed to encourage them to head south, because I can't afford to put out $20 a week worth of thistle.  Some do linger and utilize the sunflower seed, and once December hits, I fill the thistle again, as there are less Goldfinches here and it keeps them fed.  Some disagree on this, and say that they don't migrate, but my experience says they do.  In fact, last winter, I had a female Red-winged Blackbird that stayed here all winter long eating at my feeders.  Robins are also the same way.  If there is plentiful berries to eat, they stay.  If not, they head south.  So, to put it in other words, your Goldfinches probably left, but I'm certain you'll have some hanging around again.

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Well, this is the strangest thing.  It looks like they left Curlybird's and came back.  There were a ton of them here again yesterday and today.  In the image below one of them has quite a lot of white on its tail feathers.

I never thought about removing the thistle seed because I thought they were year 'round here.  They sure can go through the seed in a hurry.

 

post-12127-901125528_thumb.jpg

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Here's a pic I took of them at the sock feeder about two weeks ago during a rain shower.   There were several more up in the tree and at the other feeder.

 

 

post-12127-1206738528_thumb.jpg

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Yup, they sure do tear up the thistle seed don't they?  I love feeding them, but it got too expensive, because just as with other birds, you start out with a few, and before long, you have dozens.  I have done the experiment with the thistle.  2 winters ago, I keep refilling my thistle feeders throught the year, and I literally would have at times 40 to 50 goldfinches in the winter months.  I was filling my feeders 2, sometimes 3 times a day, and that got WAY too expensive.  But, from my readings, once you've established such a customer base, you can't just suddenly abandon them, so I did the right thing and kept up.  Now on the other hand, last fall, when food was still abundant, I stopped filling my thistle feeders.  The goldfinches slowly disappeared, except for a half dozen or so.  Come December when I know that any birds that would migrate have done so, I started to fill my thistle again.  I had a pretty consistant number of goldfinches, never more then a dozen, who did show up everyday.  Saved me a lot of money, that's for sure.  This year, I don't think I'll be filling thistle at all, if ever again.  Seems the house sparrows like thistle too much, and were commanding the thistle feeders when I filled them.  No way am I gonna pay that much to feed house sparrows.

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I do go through a lot of thistle seed.  I buy it in bulk so it isn't too bad yet but if they start coming in numbers of 40 - 50, whoa!  So far, I haven't seen any House Sparrows and I hope I don't.  I'll have to keep a look-out for them because I really don't want them around, especially in the Spring if/when my Bluebirds come back to raise some more young.

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Glad to see you got 'em back!  I still have mine!  Actually, I never knew I had any goldfinches in the area where I live until these guys showed up.  Also have a few but not many House Finches, although I previously had a lot more when I had my "regular" feeder which I had to take down because the Mourning Doves were numbering up to a dozen at a time and making a big mess!  I got the sock feeders as the Mourning Doves can't feed off them so they won't hang around like before.  Also, I realized that the House Sparrows are ground feeders; they never would come up to the top part of my feeders; always ate what landed on the ground - is that a common way for them to feed?  That's good if they don't like to climb onto feeders as it keeps them off my sock feeders!

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I have the same sock feeder as you and the House sparrows do not like to hang on it.  They will still feed on thistle from my tube feeder. so I stopped filling it.  I also had the same experience with my Goldfinches.  They were here one day and gone the next.  About 2 weeks later I was getting migrating strays in small numbers.  I am in North Carolina, so their migration pattern/or lack of migration may be different.

Glad to see they are back!

 

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There are people here with much more expertise than me, but my guess is that, like their close kin, the Pine Siskin, they tend to be nomadic during the non-breeding season. I have them all winter and their numbers do fluctuate.

 

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Goldfinches are what you could call nomadic.  At least in winter anyways.  They go where the food is, hence the reason they leave when I stop feeding them in fall.  As for house sparrows, they will eat any place there is food, be it on the ground, on feeders, hanging from finch socks.....anywhere.  That's how they are here anyways.  People who come to my house are often amazed at the shear number of birds that can show up in my yard.  In winter, I will usually have a mixed flock of house sparrows, house finches, goldfinches, and sometimes a few stragglers of other species such as tree sparrows, pine siskins, purple finches, and even some stray blackbirds.  At times, this mixed flock has numbered, to my best estimate anyways, around 150 birds.  You kind of lose count when there is that many!  Although most of the birds aren't all that interesting, the HUGE number of birds is quite a spectacle.  Add to those numbers my resident birds, like cardinals, chickadees, woodpeckers, etc.  Then once evening comes, I've had in excess of 30 mourning doves out there eating.  This large influx of birds tends to occur more when there is deep snow, or excessive cold, but can happen anytime.  Also, this fall, there was a rest stop made by a flock of red-winged blackbirds in my yard, and extending into basically the whole neighborhood, that was almost impossible to count.  I would say in the hundreds of thousands.  I was absolutely amazing, and unfortunately, I was so in awe that I just stood there, so I didn't get any pictures. 

In case anyone is wondering, I live about 1/2 mile from the Horican National Wildlife Refuge, which explains the massive flocks of birds.

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Sometimes I'm amazed at the number of birds in my backyard, too.  I had gotten a new feeder and as I walked out the back door to put it up this afternoon, I was shocked at just how many birds I'd frightened away.  I started feeding birds again back in late May, early June of this year.  When I wasn't putting feeders up I'd never see birds around except maybe an occasional Robin.  Now there's almost never a time when there aren't birds.  It took a couple of weeks for the mourning doves to start coming but once they did, their numbers grew quite rapidly.  One day I counted at least 21 of them pecking around on the ground under the feeders.

I'm no expert on Sparrows, that's for sure but I do see House Sparrows quite often where I work.  They build their nests up near the roof and in the exposed rafters so I have a pretty good idea of what they look like.  I've seen lots of other Sparrows in the backyard but haven't seen any HOSP.

I can recall years ago a huge flock of Starlings would visit the backyard.  I'm talking huge.  One day there were so many of them that the branches of the tree they landed on sagged several feet and once they took off, the branches bounced like crazy.  They would take-off simultaneously, then return again and again  It looked a lot like

.  They would come back every year but it's been a long time since I've seen them.  So far this year, I've only seen two Starlings out back.

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I just took this video of finches feeding.  8 minutes of them jostling for a perch.  If you like lessor goldfinches, take a look.

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