One of the benefits of feeding birds during the summer is that it enhances our chances of seeing male American goldfinches decked out in their striking black and yellow breeding plumage. If you feed these beautiful birds at this time of the year, do you offer them nyger (thistle) seeds in a traditional upright feeder or one that requires them to feed while hanging upside down?
Over the years, I have fed nyger seeds to goldfinches in feeders that require them to display their considerable acrobatic skills to pluck the seeds from the feeders by clinging to the feeders above the feeding portals. More frequently, however, I employ feeders that allow them to feed while they are perched upright. American goldfinches have used both feeder designs.
However, I have often wondered whether American goldfinches prefer feeding from one type of feeder or the other. Apparently, others think about such issues too since research has focused on this very subject. According to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, these studies have found that, when given a choice they prefer to feed while standing upright.
The whole idea behind suet and nyger feeders designing feeders to be accessed while bird hang upside down is to discourage unwanted birds such as starlings, grackles, and blackbirds from gorging on the food. Fortunately, I have never found the need to thwart them from eating this luxury menu item. Consequently, since I now know American goldfinches prefer feeders that allow them to stand upright as they feed, I am going use only nyger feeders that permit them to do so. Perhaps this will encourage a few more American goldfinches to visit my backyard this summer. If it doesn’t, I can always pull the feeders that require the birds to hang upside down feed out of storage and once again offer the goldfinches a choice as to where they want to dine.