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The best finch feeders of 2023 - Buying thistle, Nyjer, & sunflower feeders for finches

The Nyjer feeder or thistle feeder is a specialist feeder to attract finches, sparrows, and chickadees. Learn how to shop for thistle feeders and Nyjer feeders here at the Roost!


Using a Nyjer and thistle feeder is a great way to attract large flocks of gorgeous winter finches like Pine Siskins. While sunflower seed feeders can also accomplish this task, thistle feeders rarely attract other feeder pests like squirrels, House Sparrows, and European Starlings.

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Two Pine Siskins sit and eat on a bird feeder.
Two Pine Siskins sit on the Stokes Select Mesh Nyjer Feeder.

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Nyjer Category


Link to Amazon

Nyjer Seed

Many options!

Nyjer Feeder

Stokes Mesh Feeder

Budget Feeder

C&S Sock Feeder

Large Nyjer Feeder

Woodlink Magnum Feeder

Why use a Nyjer feeder or thistle feeder?

Thistle or nyjer seed attracts finch species such as American Goldfinch, House Finch, Purple Finch, Cassin's Finch, and Common Redpoll. We have also seen Dark-eyed Junco and Green-tailed Towhee feed on Nyjer and thistle feeders. Why are these birds attracted to Nyjer seed? Small-billed birds often eat smaller seed types, and 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! It is a species of aster! It previously came from the eastern hemisphere, but it is now also grown in the US. The seed is sterilized, so it has no chance to grow into a new plant! (You can tell that helpful fact to any grumpy neighbors.)

Since the American Goldfinch is widespread, this feeder type is frequently found in backyards to attract these golden angels. We recommend mesh screen thistle feeders for feeding Nyjer seed. 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 feeder or thistle feeder type?

With thistle and/or Nyjer feeders in mind, we offer our recommendations:

  1. 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.

  2. A great budget thistle/nyjer feeder is the Nyjer Sack.

  3. If you need a LARGE nyjer/thistle feeder, check out the Magnum Thistle Feeder!

  4. To feed larger finches, use black oil sunflower seed with a platform feeder. Why a platform feeder? Larger birds appreciate the stability of the platform.

  5. To shop around other thistle feeders, you can check more out here.

Best Thistle and 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 the 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 and 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 a three-pack like pictured here.

Best Large Thistle and Nyjer Feeder: Stokes Select 38171

If you have enough finches (like a finch irruption) visiting your feeders that you need a feeder capable of holding greater amounts of Nyjer seed, then please send an invite to us for a visit to your house! We would love to see all those finches!! In the meantime, we use the Stokes Select Nyjer feeder that holds over a pound of finch food! Yes, you can purchase a larger feeder for Nyjer, but if it's too large, most of the Nyjer seed will spoil.

Most colorful Nyjer feeder: Birds Choice Color Pop Finch Feeder

I LOVE the Color Pop collection by Birds Choice. The finches and sparrows also love these Nyjer feeders, and they bring a fun color selection to my backyard during the winter. The top of this feeder is magnetic, which helps hold the lid in place. It does not have a bottom perch area, so the sparrows are less keen on visiting the feeder, which is great for a finch-only feeder!

What is the best bird 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 seed, or use a combination of sunflower seed and Nyjer seed!

Best grosbeak, crossbill, and rosy-finch feeder: Going Green Platform Feeder

Here at Flocking Around, we prefer simple things. Simple foods. Simple feeders. Simple cleaning techniques. Of course, then, our favorite overall bird feeder would be simple. Enter the 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. It is easy to clean and repair!

Mesh sunflower feeder for finches: Stokes Mini Seed Screen Feeder

Tube feeders are often less messy, collect less feces, and are easier to hang in some areas. However, most tube feeders use ports for feeding. At Flocking Around, we greatly oppose tube feeders with ports as there is evidence they help to spread conjunctivitis more than other feeder types. Mesh tube feeders, though, do not utilize ports but instead use mesh screens that do not require a bird's head to enter to collect seeds. Additionally, metal mesh is easier to clean than a port, especially those port feeders with moving parts.

Want to learn more about the best birdseed to buy? Visit our post discussing birdseed!


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2 commenti

12 mar 2022

How do I deter finches that make a mess and prohibit my chickadees from feeding. ?

I'm afraid the seeds on the ground are going to attract bears.

Mi piace
Risposta a

Well, it is not easy to pick and choose which native birds will feed at the feeders. Is there a reason you do not want chickadees fed? As for your other question, you can rake up excessive seed. Owning feeders is a commitment, and it does require effort from time to time. There are also seed catchers, but they won’t fully prevent a mess. You will still have to do work. You can try to use only seed types that will be preferred, but feeders will attract bears, regardless of the amount of seed landing on the ground. Deterring or preventing bear access to the area is your best bet.

Mi piace
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