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Old Tuesday 13th September 2005, 00:01   #1
affe22
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When to put out a thistle feeder

When do people in the US generally put out a thistle feeder? I just got one and have never had one before. I'm hoping a Pine Siskin may wander along and find it this winter.
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Old Tuesday 13th September 2005, 02:42   #2
Katy Penland
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I still have Lesser Goldfinches who're covering the sock feeder every day. I didn't have this feeder last winter (put it up this past spring for the finches), so I'll leave this up and see how the Pine Siskins like it. The two I've had come in already this summer jumped right on it. Is your thistle feeder a tube or sock?
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Old Tuesday 13th September 2005, 02:54   #3
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It's one of those plastic tubes with the little rests. I decided it couldn't hurt to put it out now so I filled it and put it out after dark. We'll see what happens tomorrow.
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Old Tuesday 13th September 2005, 03:26   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katy Penland
I still have Lesser Goldfinches who're covering the sock feeder every day. I didn't have this feeder last winter (put it up this past spring for the finches), so I'll leave this up and see how the Pine Siskins like it. The two I've had come in already this summer jumped right on it. Is your thistle feeder a tube or sock?
Sorry to butt in here, but do finches prefer socks? I've put out thistle in tube feeders and they seem to ignore it and go to the sunflower seed feeder instead.
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Old Tuesday 13th September 2005, 06:39   #5
Katy Penland
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No such thing as butting in on a discussion forum!

Do you know what kind of finches are ignoring your thistle seed? Our House Finches don't bother with it on the ground, and their beaks are too big to stick into the tiny tube feeder openings or the sock feeder's mesh. But the Lesser and American Goldfinches, and Pine Siskins, can gobble it up with their smaller, narrower beaks. House Finches and some of the other larger-beaked finch-type birds seem to prefer sunflower seed, safflower seed, and sunflower hearts

Good question, though -- don't know if there is a preference on the part of the two Goldfinches or the Siskins. I do know that a lot more birds can feed from a sock at one time (20-26) than they can from a tube feeder (4-8 perches I think are the average). But I also know that I have to clean the sock at least weekly where a tube feeder might not have to be cleaned but a couple times a season, or as weather or other circumstances might dictate.

Be interesting to see if anyone else has some insight into whether a sock or tube feeder is preferred by the birds.
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Old Tuesday 13th September 2005, 14:23   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katy Penland
..... Do you know what kind of finches are ignoring your thistle seed?.....
The only ones I can ID are the American Goldfinch and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Pine Siskins are so similar to the many other smaller birds that I haven't sorted them all out yet. (In an effort to ID them, I cross-indexed the Audubon Handbook of Eastern Birds with a list of birds commonly found in Missouri because many of the birds I think are "finches" probably aren't ! )

I don't get takers on plain safflower seed, but they'll eat it as part of a pricey mix that also has peanuts, raisins, currants, almonds, etc... that looks a lot like trail mix or breakfast granola for humans, and they love suet blocks, but shun ordinary wild bird seed mixes.

Perhaps they ignore most ordinary commercial bird foods, including thistle, because this is a rural area with plenty of wild food, so they'll only visit the feeders if I offer some premium treats they can't find elsewhere. That's fine, at least they find all the food they want!
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Old Tuesday 13th September 2005, 14:27   #7
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Once you get the hang of it, Siskins won't look like much else out there. They shouldn't be hanging out in SW Missouri yet I don't think.
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Old Wednesday 14th September 2005, 00:54   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by affe22
Once you get the hang of it, Siskins won't look like much else out there. They shouldn't be hanging out in SW Missouri yet I don't think.
That's what I don't like about this old Audubon book - no range maps at all, nevermind maps marked summer/ winter/ migration, etc... I ordered a Peterson guide and hope it will be more thorough in that respect. Thanks for the info.
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Old Wednesday 14th September 2005, 01:47   #9
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You can feed thistle all year round, no worries.
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Old Wednesday 14th September 2005, 02:43   #10
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Didn't see any birds there today. I imagine it takes a bit of time before they notice another feeder around. Hopefully I'll start seeing some activity in the next few days.
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Old Wednesday 14th September 2005, 10:22   #11
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I've got a fine screen mesh feeder which is like a sock but tougher. I've used a sock as well. They can attract a lot more birds at a time because they can cling on anywhere but the trade-off is you will go through a lot more thistle. As far as what type of feeder they like better I'm not sure I've asked them many times but the goldfinches only answer me with that high pitched sound that sounds like eeeeeeat!
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Old Wednesday 14th September 2005, 18:15   #12
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Don't know if it's an effect of all the wildflowers and weeds putting on seed heads just now or whether migration has started, but I've noticed a drop in birds at the feeders the past few days. Our overnight temps are also starting to drop (40 F. night before last, and 38 F. last night), and the hummer numbers are definitely way down the past week. Should be seeing Pine Siskins come in any day now and they love the thistle seed.
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Old Wednesday 14th September 2005, 23:57   #13
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I like watching the Goldfinches pick the seed heads off of the Purple Coneflowers.
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Old Thursday 15th September 2005, 10:13   #14
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Smile Had to put another feeder out.

Hav`nt tried a sock but I put out another tube feeder to cut down on the squabbeling.One day last year I walked out and it looked like the grass was vibrating then I looked closer and it was about 100 goldfinches (in winter plummage) going to town on the bird seed. I hope a get to see that again this year.
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Old Thursday 15th September 2005, 15:22   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lvn600
I've got a fine screen mesh feeder which is like a sock but tougher. I've used a sock as well. They can attract a lot more birds at a time because they can cling on anywhere but the trade-off is you will go through a lot more thistle. As far as what type of feeder they like better I'm not sure I've asked them many times but the goldfinches only answer me with that high pitched sound that sounds like eeeeeeat!
I tried a screen mesh feeder because I was going through socks pretty fast. With cleaning them and everything they fall apart. The screen mesh feeder wasn't cheap, but I thought it would save money in the long run since I wouldn't be buying so many socks. But they didn't like it! The socks got both house finches and lesser goldfinches, but only the occasional gold finch would use the screen mesh feeder and the seed stayed in it for a long time. I don't have it filled right now and am back to the socks. I did find a different kind of sock that is more durable and longer so more birds can fit. It is also black which looks nicer than the white that would get stained from the seed oil.
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Old Thursday 15th September 2005, 15:26   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lvn600
I like watching the Goldfinches pick the seed heads off of the Purple Coneflowers.
I would love to see that! I have a crop of Purple Coneflowers in the front yard this year. Haven't seen anyone snacking yet, put I'll keep a lookout. Goldfinches are my favorite!
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Old Thursday 15th September 2005, 22:12   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smudgepot
I would love to see that! I have a crop of Purple Coneflowers in the front yard this year. Haven't seen anyone snacking yet, put I'll keep a lookout. Goldfinches are my favorite!
I had a sock feeder and tons of finches loveded it. Due to the cleaning problem, I too switched to the tube and likewise found fewer of them visiting.
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Old Thursday 15th September 2005, 23:05   #18
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[quote=smudgepot]
Quote:
I tried a screen mesh feeder because I was going through socks pretty fast. With cleaning them and everything they fall apart. The screen mesh feeder wasn't cheap, but I thought it would save money in the long run since I wouldn't be buying so many socks. But they didn't like it!
When I first put my wire mesh feeder out I thought my thistle had gone bad or something.The goldfinches would only eat my sunflower hearts from a tube feeder but would not touch the thistle in the mesh feeder. After about 2-3 weeks they caught on to it. Now I have to fill the thistle feeder often as I get up to a dozen goldfinches on it at a time.

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Old Thursday 15th September 2005, 23:15   #19
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The birds found the thistle. It is interesting though because I have already seen multiple house finches, a solitary male goldfinch and a single chickadee all feeding at the same time. Guess the slits on this one are a little bigger.
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Old Sunday 30th July 2006, 22:44   #20
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Yesterday I discovered 10 lbs of shelled sunflower got soaked from a rain storm after the cover of the container came off.I used black oil sunflower seeds and the Goldfinches are still eating it from the tube feeder.They continue to ignore the nyjer.
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Old Sunday 30th July 2006, 23:39   #21
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I don't put out thistle, because only finches eat it and I figure that if goldfinches, etc. were near the yard, they'd be coming for the sunflower seeds I put out.
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Old Monday 31st July 2006, 16:23   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lvn600
They continue to ignore the nyjer.
If that's all you put out, they'll eat it like crazed lunatics. The house finches, while adorable in their own ways, are greedy consumers! They swarm my feeders and fight with other species for food. The cardinals get really mad! LOL
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Old Monday 7th August 2006, 13:44   #23
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If you fail to attract finch to Nyjer thistle it may be due to the freshness of the seed itself. Nyjer thistle, and imported product, is sterilized by the USDA, to prevent introducing noxious weeds into North America, and the temperatures produce a shelf life of 4 to 5 months. Many stores (big box and hardware) may warehouse the seed for 6 months or more. By the time it is placed on the shelf it is old and the finch will reject it. Goldfinch and house finch feed on it year round, pinesiskn are more a winter bird that will feed on thistle as they drift south in search of winter food sources. House finch really like safflower seed in a seed tube feeder and will consume large quantities. To prevent sparrows from feeding on the thistle tube, cut the perches back to 5/8 inch. Gold, and house finch and pine siskin have no problem feeding on the shortened perches. However house sparrows, which will keep the more desirable birds away, cannot feed from the shortened perches. Purchase thistle seed from a reputable dealer. Avoid the grocery store packages if possible.
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Old Tuesday 8th August 2006, 20:53   #24
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Weird. Many folks say they started with a sock, then moved to a tube and lost finches in the process. My experience was the polar opposite. Tried a few socks (replenished to ensure freshness) for over 2 months-- no takers. Same spot, hung a tube feeder, and bang... finches up the wazoo. Gotta love those goldies, and yeah, even the LBJs are growin' on me (little brown jobs).
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Old Tuesday 8th August 2006, 22:34   #25
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I just removed a protective rain dome from the nyjer feeder.The next day after I removed it the finches started using it although they still seem to prefer the sunflower seeds.
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