There was a time in the not too distant past when the only bird most folks fed during the summer was the ruby-throated hummingbird. The bird readily takes to feeders filled with sugar water. In exchange, they provide homeowners with the opportunity to enjoy seeing this flying jewel on a regular basis. If that isn’t enough they also treat us to countless hours of enjoyment watching them fuss with one another and displaying their aerial skills.
Nowadays feeding seed-eating birds during the summer is also becoming increasingly more popular. Although the birds can easily exist without our seed offerings, feeding birds that eat seeds in the summer allows us to enjoy the comings and goings of birds we once regularly saw only during the colder months of the year.
Most of the birds that are attracted to summer seed feeders are birds we are all familiar with such as house finches, American goldfinches, cardinals, red-bellied woodpeckers, tufted titmice, Carolina chickadees, eastern towhees, chipping sparrows, and others. However, in the minds of many, the bird that immediately stands out as the star of the daily show played out around feeders is the American goldfinch.
The reason for this is the male American goldfinch is dressed in his breeding plumage. The golden radiance of the bird reaches out and grabs your attention. Bedecked with a black cap, wings, and tail, it appears nothing like the drab yellowish-green bird we feed at our feeders in winter.
Although both male and female American goldfinches commonly visit feeders in summer, the female retains its subdued colors. As such, she will look pretty much the same as she does in the winter.
As we, all know, in winter, American goldfinches gather in flocks that can make short work of a feeder stocked with black oil sunflower seeds. Don’t expect to see large flocks of American goldfinches at your summer feeder. The flocks have long disbanded and scattered across the countryside. This means you are most likely going to see one or a just a few birds come to your feeders. However, often long before I see these beauties make their entrance onto your backyard stage; you just might hear them announce their arrival by calling, “Just look at me! Just look at me!”
If you decide to try your hand at trying to attract an American goldfinch or two to your feeder this summer, stock it with black oil sunflower seeds. Since you will not be feeding as many birds as you do in winter, don’t put out a lot of seed. It is also a good idea to buy your seeds in smaller bags. This will help prevent the stored sunflower seed from becoming infested with insect pests.
Once you see a male American goldfinch at your feeder this summer it will be easy to believe that, it is not the same bird you watched hulling sunflower seeds on cold winter mornings. You will also wish that it retained its gold and black plumage throughout the entire year.