Fickle finches are snubbing a Danville sock feeder

DEAR JOAN: We have had a sock feeder for fins for a few years now. In the past, it has attracted many birds.

We hung a new sock up with new seed and have yet to see one. Is it still early for them or did they just decide not to dine with us anymore?

Anne K., Danville

DEAR ANNE: I don’t know if this is specific to finches, but I’ve found them to be a bit fickle. I, too, have changed sock feeders and had the birds disappear on me.

It’s easier to understand why we’d get the cold shoulder if we were using old sock feeders. Finches don’t like dirty or moldy feeders, which can be common in feeders that have seen better days.

It’s more difficult to find an explanation when the feeder is new, but the most common reason would be they don’t care for the food. I don’t know if you’re feeding regular bird seed or nyjer seed, which often is called thistle seed.

Nyjer seed is harvested and, if it’s coming from outside of the United States, which most of it is, it has to be heat treated first. The treatment can leach the oils from the seed, making it less tasty. Stale seeds are a big turn-off for the finches.

You might get a bag of “bad” seed even if you’re buying the same brand. You might have picked up one that, for whatever reason, has been sitting on the shelf too long. When buying seed, look for the freshest—it will be black and shiny; avoid seed that has a dull appearance or is more brown than black.

Another thing about finches is that their appetites change in the seasons. In the colder months, they tend to prefer nyjer as the oil in the seed helps with their fat storage and protection against the chill. In the warmer months, they have more of a liking for seeds.

In the spring and summer, they also can be lured away from our feeders by the fresh seed and tender vegetation growing in gardens and open spaces.

Continue to offer fresh seed. I’m confident you’ll be back on their favorites list before long.

DEAR JOAN: I successfully played YouTube recordings of bald eagle and red tail hawk cries in my backyard to scare away a crow. It flew away within a minute and the next day we had a few red tail hawks in trees.

Where is bird store closer to Sunnyvale?

Julia, Sunnyvale

DEAR JULIA: I’m more familiar with stores in the East Bay, but a check of our old friend, Google, shows a couple that specialize in wild birds near-ish to you, including Birders Garden at 926 El Camino Real, San Carlos; and Los Gatos Birdwatcher, 792 Blossom Hill Road.

Readers, do you have a favorite store that you visit?

Leave a Comment