Updated: Nov 7, 2020
The thistle feeder is a specialist feeder. It is used almost exclusively to hold thistle seed, also known as nyjer seed. Learn how to shop for thistle feeders, here!
Before we address our recommendations for thistle feeders, there are two items I need to address:
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Why use a nyjer or thistle feeder?
Thistle or nyjer seed attracts finch species such as American Goldfinch, House Finch, Purple Finch, Cassin's Finch, and Common Redpoll. I have also seen Dark-eyed Junco and Green-tailed Towhee feed on thistle feeders. Why are these birds attracted to nyjer seed? Small bill birds often eat smaller seed types, and the nyjer seed is the closest replicant available on the birdseed market. What is nyjer or thistle seed? It is a special type of seed that comes from a plant related to the sunflower! You read that correctly, Since the American Goldfinch is widespread, this feeder type is frequently found in backyards. We recommend mesh screen thistle feeders for this category. Why? No feeding ports! Feeding ports encourage the spread of bacteria and viruses that plague finches. AVOID using feeders with ports!
What is the best nyjer/thistle feeder type?
With thistle and nyjer feeders in mind, we offer our recommendation.
The Stokes Select Bird Feeder is a reasonably-priced thistle or nyjer feeder and being a slightly smaller feeder (0.5 lbs), you are less likely to waste nyjer/thistle seed. If you need the large version, check out Stokes Select Thistle 1.1 lb Finch Screen Feeder.
A great budget thistle/nyjer feeder is the Nyjer Sack.
If you need a LARGE nyjer/thistle feeder, check out the Magnum Thistle Feeder!
To feed larger finches, use black oil sunflower seed with a platform feeder. Why a platform feeder? Larger birds appreciate the stability.
To shop around other thistle feeders, you can check more out here.
Best Thistle/Nyjer Feeder: Stokes Select Bird Feeder
For thistle feeders, this one is hard to beat due to its high online ratings and overall solid build. The wire mesh screen allows finches, chickadees, and sparrows to pull nyjer or thistle seed out of the feeder, without pushing their head into a port. It allows air movement, preventing nyjer seed from becoming too moist. This is the feeder that we use here at the Flocking Around roost. It is easy to clean, and a large variety of birds appreciate it!
Best Budget Thistle/Nyjer Feeder: C&S 3 Pack of Nyjer Sacks
Do you know what is great about the "sock" thistle feeders? They are easy to clean! Just pop them into the washing machine with a little soap and bleach, give them an extra rinse, and then dry them! Easy bird feeder cleaning! If you are feeding on a budget, the thistle sock is the absolute way to go. You can buy a single sock if you only have room for one, but you can also purchase the three-pack like pictured above.
Best Large Thistle/Nyjer Feeder: Woodlink Magnum Thistle Feeder
If you have enough finches (like a finch irruption) visiting your feeders that you need a feeder capable of holding 5 lbs of nyjer seed, then please send an invite to us for a visit to your house! We would love to see all those finches!!
What is the best feeder for large finches?
Large platform feeders provide the stability and space that large finches like Pine Grosbeak, Evening Grosbeak, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, and Red Crossbills love! Fill them with sunflower and/or thistle seed for the best results!
Best grosbeak, crossbill, and rosy-finch feeder: Going Green Platform Feeder
The Going Green platform feeder is made from recycled materials and has a better longevity record than the cedar-framed platform feeders.
Want to learn more about the best birdseed to buy? Visit our post discussing birdseed!