Welcome bright yellow goldfinches, reddish-feathered purple finches, and cheery little house finches into your garden by incorporating a few strategically placed landscaping design elements. Finches' energy and playful antics bring entertainment and lively touches of natural color to your yard. Select plants and garden features that provide an attractive habitat for the small birds and add another layer of beauty to your garden design.
Grow sunflowers in abundance. Place the mammoth variety at the edge of your vegetable beds, beside a fence or at the yard's perimeter where you can see the finches feeding on the seed without the plants blocking any of your favorite views across the garden's expanses. Incorporate shorter-type sunflowers into existing flower beds where their range of yellow, gold and reddish blossoms complement other plantings. The plants' plump seeds will also attract finches.
Plant trees and shrubs in the yard to give finches a secure place to land and feed away from ground level. The seeds of maple, alder and redbud trees attract finches. The trees' branching structure is open enough that you can watch the tiny birds as they flit around harvesting their meals.
Expand your flowerbeds to include several varieties of coneflowers, particularly the type with prominent, seed-filled centers where finches perch to feed. Accent beds of perennial purple coneflowers and black-eyed Susan plants with colorful seed-bearing annuals like zinnias and cosmos.
Blend fruit-bearing vines and bushes into your landscaping scheme. Seedy fruits like mulberry and elderberry provide finches with sustenance as the fruits ripen. Later in the season, the tiny birds feed on dried berries that remain on the shrubs into winter.
Incorporate native plants from finches' natural habitats into your garden design. The glossy leaves of evergreen Oregon grape, junipers and cotoneaster ground cover, for example, provide year-round visual interest and at the same time offer food that finches eat in the wild. Reserve an area at the side of your yard to allow thistles, goldenrod and wild blackberries to form a thicket where finches can hide and feed.
Hang bird feeders filled with seeds that finches love. Place feeders in low-hanging branches around the yard. Tiny black niger seeds, in particular, attract all types of finches. Black oil sunflower seeds are small enough for the finches' tiny beaks to crack. You may also offer striped sunflower seeds with their hulls removed. For up-close views of the finches visiting your garden, hang a tube-shaped feeder on a hook stand outside the window. Hang it near a tree or shrubbery where the small birds can land between eating and in case they need to hide from larger birds.
Set a birdbath -- or two -- in your garden. Finches prefer baths that are low to the ground, wide, and have a brim for perching. Tuck birdbaths on short pedestals in areas surrounded by flowers and shrubs where the finches can snack after washing and preening themselves.
Tips & Warnings
- Let a few early-season lettuce plants go to seed in your vegetable garden to provide additional small seed sources for finches.
- Marin Chapter California Native Plant Society; Native Plants Are For the Birds; Doreen Smith; January 2000
- "Attracting Birds to Your Backyard"; Sally Roth; 1998
- "The Garden Bird Handbook"; Stephen Moss; 2006
- Alabama Cooperative Extension; Feeding Birds; Jim Armstrong, et al.; September 2010
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