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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

DO YOU HAVE GOLDFINCHES?


Update: For reasons your goldfinches disappear in the fall, click here.

Where are the American Goldfinches?? They are not here where we are, in NH. Our friends and neighbors are asking the same thing. The above photo was taken here last year on April 16th. We had many goldfinches then. The Christmas Count data for this winter indicated 80 goldfinches in December in our area compared to 383 for the previous year, 07.
This past winter has been a record year for the irruption of northern finch species such as Common Redpolls into the U.S. The results of the 2008 Great Backyard Bird Count say

"Birders alerted earlier in the winter to a massive seed production failure of trees across northern Canada, were prepared for a huge southern flight of northern finches. True to the prediction, the GBBC shows record high numbers for Pine Grosbeaks, with 15,830 birds reported from 31 states and provinces, with highest numbers reported from Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba, and much higher than average numbers in many states including Maine and New York. Because of annual fluctuations in seed crops, even-numbered years are traditionally better for finding Common Redpolls and other finches and grosbeaks south of Canada, and 2008 proved to be one of the best flights of these birds in the past decade, with 100,805 Common Redpolls reported on the count, including checklists from 29 of the lower 48 States."

Were American Goldfinch numbers down in our area, and possibly other areas, because of the invasion of northern finches, because of low seed production in our area and other areas in the northern U.S., or for other reasons?

And where are all the American Goldfinches now?? Let us know if you have, or don't have goldfinches, by responding to the comments section of this blog entry, right below.

80 comments:

Birdwoman said...

I'm located just about 30 miles northwest of Houston and if you are wondering where the goldfinches have been, I can tell you. They are here! I've had very large flocks in my yard since mid-December. They are not visiting the thistle feeders so much any more, but they are still about. I here their voices whenever I am out in my yard. They seem to be feeding on new buds in the tops of trees now. They generally stay with us until late in the spring, so I would expect them to be here for perhaps another month.

Anonymous said...

I've had more goldfinches than usual all winter here in Northeast Tennessee--they are still
around turning that beautiful yellow. Marie Graves, Johnson City,TN.

Anonymous said...

I wondered the same thing about the Goldfinches. Every year here in Port St Lucie Florida we had Goldfinches. Last year, not one came to our feeders. This year we had a few pairs that stayed about a month or so, but as of today none are around the feeders. The last viewing the males they were turning bright yellow. I do have resident Mockingbirds that chase the new arrivals away. The Warblers were not in abundant this year either. Think Spring up there in NH Don and Lillian. CAA

ncmountainwoman said...

Here in western NC we have TONS of goldfinches. They fill all the feeding stations and fight for position. The trees are full, many more than we had last year at this time.

Still no hummingbirds, though. They are all around us, but seem to have stalled in Upstate SC before heading up the mountains.

wolf21m said...

Boise, Idaho - We have had American Goldfinches at our feeder for the past few months. Up to 10 at a time, some around all day. Joined with 5-60 Pine Siskins. Last summer was the first year we had feeders, so I don't have any trend data for our area.

Martha said...

I live in the blue ridge mountains in asheville, NC. The goldfinches are everywhere! I saw about 10 sitting in a tree together when I looked out my window during breakfast this morning.

Anonymous said...

Have had goldfinches all winter here in the very northern part of lower Michigan.

J. Karl Clampit said...

I'm in Southeast Arkansas and have had tons of goldfinches! I've had up to 75 at one time at the feeders. They arrived in November and have been here in droves ever since. They are just now starting to get bright yellow.

Anonymous said...

I live in Minneapolis, and the goldfinch activity picked up towards the end of March. I think I had around a dozen. Then we had more snow, and they are hiding again. They were absent all winter long. We had snow cover all winter long....

Sara said...

At my feeders in SW Michigan, the Goldfinch disappeared when the northern finches arrived. Now that the northern birds have gone, I am seeing more Goldfinch again. This may be due to weather or food supply but I really think it is avoidance behavior among the species. It is an interesting question.

Shelly said...

I'm about 30 miles south of Chicago. I had 3 goldfinches at my feeders all winter, and they disappeared about 3 weeks ago. I haven't seen them since. I also had 3 common redpolls visiting for a few weeks over the winter.

Mary said...

I live in southern Indiana and I had about the same number of goldfinches that I always have. They live here year round. During the worst of the winter I had between 30-50 hanging around. They were mixed with several pair of Pine Siskins. I don't remember how many I counted for the GBBC. I just posted pictures of the ones that are molting at my feeders right now. The numbers are down now that the weather is turning warmer....probably 10 or more a day for sure, but that is normal.

Anonymous said...

Central Virginia has the same amout of goldfinches that we have always had.... LOTS! We also still have some pine siskin flocks that are still hanging around. Maybe after last year's April freeze, the birds are slower to head north.

Jeff Mohamed, said...

I live a few miles south of Birdwoman and we've had plenty of American Goldfinces in our yard, too. Not as many as last year perhaps but they're staying longer: We still have maybe a dozen in our yard.

robinrobin said...

Hello! It was nice to find your blog today. My name is Robin Stokes. Isn't that a riot?! The first time I saw your books in a bookstore I thought it was so ironic that my name is Robin, I am a birder (and photographer) AND my last name is Stokes.

Along the lines of the Goldfinches, I have seen several here in my Kentucky backyard this winter. :)

Here is a link to my photographer flickr site. Nashville to flowers to birds. ;)

http://flickr.com/photos/robinismyname/

My blog is linked by my name here. Have a wonderful rest of your Thursday. :) Sincerely, Robin Stokes

Lillian and Don Stokes said...

Well it's nice to know that the goldfinches are someplace, just not here. Based on what you are saying sounds like many of them left the northernmost parts and hung out in southern areas. Hopefully they will migrate back soon, but not too soon, we still have some snow on the ground here in NH.

brucesc said...

I'm a little late in replying, but someone suggested you might want to know about the goldfinch migratory phenomenon that was here April 3. I have pictures at my blog.

NW Nature Nut said...

Here in Portland, Oregon, I haven't noticed a decline over previous years. I am seein American and Lesser in my yard. It seems about the same as last year.

Anonymous said...

I saw more Gold Finches this weekend then I have in a while. They are finally getting there beautiful color back. I live in South Western lower Michigan.

Anonymous said...

I live in upstate New York, placed a goldfinch feeder out about a week and a half ago and have not seen one goldfinch yet. Will they come back to the North?

John said...

I live in Groton, MA which is near Lowell, MA and we had very almost no gold finch until February. About 4 showed up then but not daily. As of mid-March they started returning and most of trhe males are in their yellow plumage now (April 9, 2008).

ChrisJ said...

I live in Southern California, south of LA. We used to have dozens of goldfinches, but I haven't seen any for over a year, and I have had their favorite thistle seed out all year. We had bad fires last year so may be they all moved eastwards.

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

Here in the Saratoga Springs region of upstate New York, the goldfinch counts were down all winter in most locations, though some folks, especially those living closer to the Hudson River, had them all winter.
A bit further west where I live in the foothills of the Adirondacks, we had a great nesting season last summer, but they all departed and we reported zero all PFW season. Our first male goldfinch reappeared just 2 days ago.
In contrast, our Common Redpoll activity this winter was extremely strong, peaking in late winter with counts of 200+.
I am anxiously awaiting the return of the goldfinches!

CFergie said...

I have more goldfinches this year then ever before and I'm located in SE Portland Oregon. They are going through my shelled sunflower bits like crazy!! I keep saying we are 'infested with finches (there could be worse things, right!) I am glad to see I'm not the only one but also saddened that some folks are not getting as many as they have in the past (I'd share some!)

GreenGal said...

I came across your blog trying to figure out where my Gold Finches went. I live in Maryland near DC. I had lots of Gold Finches on my feeders since early March, then just suddenly within the past 2 days they have all disappeared.

Where did they go?

Anonymous said...

We live in Northern Virginia outside DC. We consistently had a lot of goldfinches up until 2 years ago. Last year we had a few, but not very regularly. This year none. I was wondering if perhaps the population had been affected by West Nile virus or some other pathogen.

Anonymous said...

We are in northern Florida and they arrived in December but much less than the year before. I saw several around until this week so I guess they finally have all gone north. I know for sure there weren't as many this year because I keep the thistle feeders full and this year I didn't have to buy any refills. The one 14 pound bag lasted all winter. Last year I went through about 3 bags of the same size.

heatherjazz said...

I'm located in Berkeley, CA (the Bay Area) and for the past 3 years we've had large groups of year round goldfinches show up at our feeder-40-60 birds at a time some days. This year they've all but disappeared. I've seen a rare bird on different days. Some days I see no birds. Thanks for the blog. I was researching reasons for their disappearance when I came across this site.I'll be interested in more information.

heatherjazz said...

I'm located in Berkeley, CA (the Bay Area) and for the past 3 years we've had large groups of year round goldfinches show up at our feeder-40-60 birds at a time some days. This year they've all but disappeared. I've seen a rare bird on different days. Some days I see no birds. Thanks for the blog. I was researching reasons for their disappearance when I came across this site.I'll be interested in more information.

Anonymous said...

I am in central PA. I've had several dozen gold finches,along with house and purple finches, all year round...suddenly 5 days ago no goldfinches...now, for the first time, there are starlings in my yard. They don't bother around the feeders. I don't know if they are somehow to blame. Since then, I've seen a few males. That's it. MY numbers of the other finches have gone down, but nothing so drastic. I have more grosbeaks, towhees, woodpeckers, and bluebirds than in the past years. While that's a pleasant change, it's saddening, to look out and not see my feeders covered with bright yellow flutters.

Anonymous said...

I live in north/central Mass. Our Goldfinch population is definitely down. There were large numbers up thru last fall and into the early winter, but this spring, I've only seen one pair. My neighbors report the same. We've been wondering what happened to them since they are usually mobbing our feeders.

Anonymous said...

Really concerned that we have almost no goldfinches. I usually have to fill my thistle feeders on a daily bases. I even planted more zinnias this year since they loved them so last year. What's going on? Chickadee count is down also. I have loads of robins, bluejays and doves.

Anonymous said...

I'm located 35 miles northwest of Charlotte, NC. There were large amounts of goldfinches until about 6-7 weeks ago. Now, i see 2 or 3 pair only.

I don't recall this happening before.

Anonymous said...

I live in northwest Arkansas and had two goldfinch at my feeder this morning...last year had none. I really have to work to keep them here..seem to be eating black oiled sunflower seed more that the thistle...

Anonymous said...

I live between Baltimore and DC, and have had many goldfinches in the past year round. In fact, the majority of the birds coming to my yard were goldfinches. I even planted tons of coneflower in a large garden that is far from the house and I could always see several perched on the tops eating seed. This year, I have not seen any, not even at my bird feeder. Lots of other finches, some I have not seen before, but no goldfinches. I really miss them, and I wonder what's going on.

Anonymous said...

I live in Northern Illinois. We plan to go to Florida for 4 months this winter. Can we put out thistle bags for goldfinches while we're gone? If we put out extra, does that mean more birds will come? Or will the same amount use all feeders? I'm thinking more birds will come and the thistle will be eaten up as quickly as a few feeders.

Lillian and Don Stokes said...

If you are planning to go to Florida for 4 months it is best to taper off feeding the birds in the early fall before you go. If you have someone who will come and fill your feeders regulary while you are gone, then you can put out thistle bags. It is actually better to put out thistle feeders, they hold up in wet severe weather better than the cloth thistle bags. If you put out lots of thistle feeders you may get more goldfinches as goldfinches like to feed in a flock and you can accomodate more birds with more feeders.

Anonymous said...

I live around the Lansing, MI area. Goldfinch populations have beeen down 95% or more since last spring. Almost none now. I don't think I've seen one for weeks. Use to have lots in years gone by. Lots of tweeting, chirping, and amazing vertical battles, with waiting room only at the feeders. :)

Really miss them! What's going on?

Mark from Michigan

Lillian and Don Stokes said...

In Dec. 2008 we have lots of goldfinches at our feeders now. Goldfinches wander widely in winter depending on where they can find a good seed crop, good bird feeders and other factors. We had few in spring, now lots more. There are good birch seeds here now, maybe that is why they're remaining here. Not sure why they're not in Lansing now, sounds like their numbers just didn't build back up.

Anonymous said...

I'm about 20 miles east of Los Angeles. Goldfinches have been almost nonexistent for a year and a half.

Patsy said...

I live in a Chiago suburb... I had a large number of yellow finch visiting this past Winter. Three long feeders with 24 ports on each, full of birds... daily! It was awesome. I was excited with Spring rolling in, to see the males turning bright yellow. Although once that change started taking place, they've all left... darn it! Where did they go?

penny said...

i live in upstate ny and up until 2 weeks ago we've had scores of goldfinches at our feeder along with grackles, red wing blackbirds, blue finches, woodpeckers, blue jays, doves, squirrels, and a chipmunk... all are still there in lower numbers, except the yellow and blue finches have gone...still see one or two blue finches, but the yellows are not anywhere to be seen... have they migrated, are they nesting? the grackles have lower numbers as well... but are still present...

NANCY P-S said...

I live just north of Pittsburgh, PA and have not seen any finches for about 2 weeks. I see that today they seem to be returning (5/11/09). Does anyone know where they were? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

In Northern Virginia I had flocks of goldfinches until 2 days ago. Now none- where have they gone? We have had a lot of rain but I cleaned the feeders and put out fresh thistle- still no birds. It is so sad- their colors were so cheerful!

Anonymous said...

I am in St. Louis MO and had several beautiful pair until a week ago. They were working over my thistle feeder and now are completely gone. Purple finches are still about but no gold finches. Where do they go???

Anonymous said...

Sitting in my backyard, in a suburb of Albany, NY, I noticed that within the last week or two, I have not seen one goldfinch at my feeder. In the past they have been very active. Nothing has changed, except a Pileated Woodpecker that is making his presence known. Would this have an impact on the goldfinches?

Cleo and Leo said...

I live in La Grange Park, Illinois. We always had goldfinches. They would put on their "courting suits" around my daughter's birthday in early April. This year, not a one.

Donna said...

Last year here in Sanford NC we have so many goldfinches they were knocking each other off the feeders. Once the males started to brighten up in early spring, they disappeared. Have not seen one since. We have lots of building going on here lately, could that be part of the problem? Sure do miss those darlings.

Donna said...

Last year here in Sanford NC we had so many goldfinches they were knocking one another off the feeders. Had a few in early spring, but once the males started to brighten up, they disappeared. Have not seen one since. There is considerable building going on nearby could that be the problem? Sure do miss those darlings.

Althea Michel said...

We are in Southwestern lower Michigan and we have plenty of finches. We have so many that we bought a four-bag feeder to accommodate them all, along with the feeder we have now. We also have a lot of hummingbirds, as many as 20 at a time feeding. They are truly enjoyable to watch.

Bob Crowley said...

We had a sudden disappearance of goldfinches in Sudbury MA two weeks ago. 6 or more birds were at the feeder all day, all Summer. But when the feeder was empty for a couple of days, then refilled, none came back except one old-looking adult female. Now I see none. This is very mysterious and I suspect there has been a die off, or maybe they all moved elsewhere!

Lillian and Don Stokes said...

Bob,
It is common for goldfinches to abandon feeders in the mid-fall. That's because, at this time, the wild seeds are ripened and abundant. Once colder weather comes, and the wild seeds are more depleted, they return to the feeders. For more, see
http://stokesbirdingblog.blogspot.com/
2009/09/goldfinch-mania.html

I love birds said...

I live in Carver, Ma. I have been feeding the birds , year round for 30 years. This year, ALL of my birds disappeared about a month ago. I went from 65-70 lbs of seed a week to nothing! I have a few downy, hairy and red bellied woodpeckers at the suet but that is all! Very lonely....anyone else have this same problem?

Anonymous said...

I live in Smithfield RI and for about 3 weeks now , the finches have not visited our feeders, both nyjer and sunflower. Today a lone male goldfinch appeared for a short time on the nyjer feeder then left. This is the first time my feeders have been 'abandoned' like this. i don't see them in the woods during my walks either.

Anonymous said...

We live in SW Michigan and have always had many goldfinches at our thistle seed feeders. We saw them all summer and into the fall, but haven't seen them in weeks. Just wondering why they disappeared so quickly

Gene said...

My goldfinches have been missing for months. Last winter many many of them visited my feeders. This winter, none. Was it something I said?

Anonymous said...

I live in near Raleigh, NC. We have no goldfinches all year.

vjderose said...

We live in West Los Angeles and have a nearly continual flock of Lesser Goldfinches at the feeder. I'm told Americans are also resident but I've yet to see one at my feeder. They all left abruptly about three weeks ago leaving a half-filled feeder (rare!) They have summer breeding range east of California and I'm assuming this is part of their breeding migration.
Jim D.

mary49056 said...

Where are the goldfinches? as of spring 2010 we have none here at my feeder in Grand Junction MI.
Would love to know what is going on.
Mary

Anonymous said...

I live in Northwest Indiana and the goldfinches have been feeding all spring and summer. I counted 16 male and female finches on the feeder all at the same time. For the past week or so they have been eating like crazy. My neighbor also has a lot feeding at her feeders. I use the sock feeders. I am wondering if any will migrate.

Anonymous said...

I am sad that I have not seen my beautiful goldfinches for almost a year. Unsure of the weather changes here in Colorado that may have impacted their habits. Kept the feeders filled but will change out the old, bring in some fresh Nyger and hope for the best. I miss their backyard antics and air acrobatics near the Air Force Academy! Colorado Springs

Anonymous said...

I live in Rochester, Minnesota and was amazed this morning to see about three dozen Male Goldfinch at our feeders! Also had a Indigo Bunting among them. Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I had goldfinches all last year. I put out feeders and they were plentiful until about two weeks ago. Now they are totally gone. The feeders are not being touched although half full. I live in central Virginia.

PAS

birdwatcher said...

I live in Northern Indiana. I am use to to filling my 3 large finch feeders everyday. I have done this for years. They were here in the spring and I participated in the bird count which you have to count the birds you see within 15 minutes. I counted 59 (which was not a large amount for me) Then in June they disapeared. This has never happened before. I have had some gold finches dying the past two years. I even took one into the closest DNR for testing. They are usually here all year. I miss them. I see two male finches daily. That is it.

birdwatcher said...

I have also lost all but two male goldfinches in my yard. I have fed goldfinches for as long as I can remember. In the past two years I have had some dying. They would get fluffy and then they would seem to go blind. I took one into Notre Dame to the DNR (Northern Indiana) for testing, but I never heard anything back. This spring I did the annual bird count where you count every bird you see within a 15 minute period. I counted 59, which was not a large amount for my yard. about two weeks after that they were gone and have not come back. This has never happened before. I miss the yellow flocks.

Robyn Harrison said...

I live in Northwest Arkansas. I want to know when the Gold Finches will return.I use the sock feeder so I have to watch out for the Squirels. The beautiful little Finches line up on the railing of my deck waiting for their turn when the sock is full of hungry birds.If anyone can give me info please do. Rkn Gmaw

Susan Bush said...

In western North Caroline (Hendersonville area) our goldfinches have been gone for about a month. At first I thought it was bad seed, but got new seed and still no sign of them for two weeks. I hear from our local bird store they just aren't around. Thanks for your notation that they are out eating seeds and will return. I put a feeder out every day, hoping this will be the one. They brighten our day.

Anonymous said...

Located in elkton md. Usually have many goldfinches winter and summer...none this summer, fall or winter...have purple finches. where are the goldfinches?

Anonymous said...

I live just north of Ottawa Canada. I had about 100 goldfinches up until about 4 days ago. We are having an unusually warm winter with much less snow. Is this why they have left suddenly in February?

Rita said...

Rita Jarvis said...

We usually have goldfinches by this time of year, but I havent seen any yet. We live in central Illinois.

Toni said...

4/24/12
I live in Sacramento. Lots of goldfinches winter and spring. No goldfinches last 3 weeks.
Gradually my other birds have left red breasted finches,,nuthatch, sparrows. Toni

Anonymous said...

Ohio birder living near Lake Erie wonders why there have
Only been 2 or 3 American goldfinches at my backyard feeders this year. No one seems to know why

Alicia said...

Alicia says:
I travel all of Cape Cod, Ma. every day and I decided to take a poll with everyone I see with a bird feeder in their yard. Seems they have all done the same thing, dumped their thistle thinking it had gone bad and put in fresh thistle. Still no Goldfinch. What is going on? Does anyone know<

Anonymous said...

Sharon says: I live in Jew Jersey and I have not seen any Goldfinches this year. When I was at the feed store last month the man there said the same thing. I too was wondering what is going on.
Any comment???

Anonymous said...

I Live in Central Long Island NY and over the past 20 months the numbers of 10-15 yellow finch at the feeders has dropped down to 0.About a week ago we started to see 1-3 at the feeder maybe twice a day but that just started.
There is something going on but I have been searching the net for over a year and nobody has any info.
I truly would like a viable reason or to know if anyone is even looking into it.

Best Regards;
Ed

TL said...

I live in the foothills of Western North Carolina. In years past I have have lots of goldfinches. This year I have had only a pair or two occationally. Year before last I counted approximately 40 on and around my feeders at the same time. Not so many last year. But this year??? What has happened to my favorite bird? And where do we go for an answer?
Terry Houser Sn Cliffside NC

TL said...

I live in the foothills of Western North Carolina. In years past I have have lots of goldfinches. This year I have had only a pair or two occationally. Year before last I counted approximately 40 on and around my feeders at the same time. Not so many last year. But this year??? What has happened to my favorite bird? And where do we go for an answer?
Terry Houser Sn Cliffside NC

Lillian and Don Stokes said...

Goldfinch numbers can fluctuate considerably. They breed rather late, in late spring through August and during that time may not be at your feeders, instead going to favorable nesting locations, often near shrubby wet areas. In late August the young fledge and make sure you have feeders full as they can flock to feeders.
To increase goldfinch numbers, keep multiple feeders full of their favorite foods like thistle (Nyjer) and hulled sunflower, as they like to feed in flocks.

David Brann said...

D. Brann, Phila., PA-- i have had many goldfinches in my yard, 20 or more at a time until 2011. Now I see them only rarely eating the heads of black-eyed susans. They do not go to feeders as in the past. I am careful to clean feeders. Does anyone have any evidence of why the change?

Chibi said...

So glad I found this site. Couldn't figure out wheat these birds were until I got a good pic and checked one of my birding books. We always feed the birds and enjoy this hugely. We have dozens of goldfinches here all winter, sparrow, nuthatches, juncos, cardinal, bluejay, saw cedar waxwings last week, chickadees,robins, mourning dove,woodpeckers. I spend the day filling all the feeders and shovel around so there is some bare ground.Here in Montgomery County, NY