Goldfinches do not typically use nesting boxes. These colorful yellow and black backyard visitors nicknamed "wild canaries" for their melodious song prefer to build nests from plant materials high above the ground in open spaces. Even though they won't nest in boxes, you can still help them out at nest-building time.
Home Sweet Home
Goldfinches like to nest high above the ground, usually in the crook of a tree or bush. Nest construction takes place quickly in late summer. Both the male and female finch search for material to bring back to the chosen spot, although the chore of nest-building is left to the female. Once material is gathered, the nest is built in as little as 40 minutes. A goldfinch weaves such a tight cup that it can actually hold water.
The female finch weaves the nest from tree strips, sometimes pilfered from other birds' nests. Tree fibers, bark and grass make up the outer layer of the finch nest. Weeds that grow later in the season are popular nesting materials. Thistle and weeds help bolster the inside of the finch nest. Wool, cotton and other plant fibers help keep the inner nest warm and watertight. The female bird binds the nest together with spider silk and webs.
Nesting Season Comes Late
Goldfinches do not migrate, so you'll see them in your yard year-round. Males lose their bright plumage in the winter months and become drab. Female finches sport brown plumage through the summer and are never as bright as their mates. They nest later in the season than most birds and hatch their young as late as September. They build warm, durable nests to last till spring. Goldfinches prefer open spaces around farms or fields.
A Little Help From You
Goldfinches may not make their homes in boxes, but they will happily roost nearby if you provide nesting materials. Leave them a patch of weeds in a corner of your yard where they can collect material for nests. Dandelion, ragwort, pigweed and tarweed are good choices, as are sunflowers grown from black oil seeds. Leave a handful of wool or cotton nearby in an open basket for nest lining. Add a bird feeder with nyjer or sunflower seed to make goldfinches regular visitors.