The Goldfinch: A Guide to Ireland’s Garden Birds

The Goldfinch: A Guide to Ireland’s Garden Birds

The Goldfinch is a beautiful, striking bird, often found in gardens, parks, woodland, heathland and farmlands. Known as ‘Lasair choille’ in Irish, they are a sociable bird, often breeding in loose colonies. They are a resident in Ireland, although some additional birds may arrive from Continent in winter.

In this blog post, we’ll guide you through how to spot a Goldfinch in your garden, what to feed it, and the best way to care for it.

What Does a Goldfinch Look Like?

The average European goldfinch is 12–13 cm (4.7–5.1 in) long with a wingspan of 21–25 cm (8.3–9.8 in) and a weight of 14 to 19 g. They have eye-catching black and yellow wings and a scarlet red face with black and white markings around the face. The two sexes are similar in looks. Their tails are black with white spots and the rump white. Their long beaks makes it easy for them to extract otherwise inaccessible seeds from thistles and teasels


What Do Goldfinches Like to Eat?

These colourful birds enjoy seeds, split grains and some insects. They will also use a peanut feeder and will become a common visitor to your garden. Nyger seed and teasels may entice the Goldfinch into your garden, especially if there are no fields nearby with thistles and dandelions. They also enjoy sunflower hearts and will readily use peanut feeders. They feed on some invertebrates in the summer months.

How to Feed Goldfinches

Goldfinches are big fans of bird feeders, and will eat mainly small seeds like Nyjer and sunflower seeds. Encourage them to return to your garden by replacing uneaten food every three to four weeks. Ensure the seed stays dry as mouldy or soggy seed can male birds ill. Most tube and mesh feeders are suitable for Goldfinches; a sock feeder also works well.

Where do Goldfinches Nest?

Goldfinches will nest in concealed spots high up in the bushes in a dead grass and small twigs. The nest is constructed entirely by the female, usually within a week. The nest is neat and compact and is usually found several metres above the ground, concealed by leaves in the twigs at the end of a swaying branch.

The nest is made of mosses and lichens and lined with plant down such as that from thistles. A deep cup prevents eggs being damaged or getting lost in windy weather. After a few days of completing the nest, the female lays her eggs early morning at daily intervals. The clutch is usually 4-6 eggs, which are whitish with reddish-brown speckles.

What do Goldfinches Sound Like?

The Goldfinches’ song is a liquidy, rather quiet string of twitters, not unlike a Swallow.

Any more questions?

Got any more questions about feeding your garden birds? Be sure to ask one of expert Pet Care Advisors at your local Petmania store today.

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