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Sunday, January 18, 2015

That Goldfinch seed is almost certainly not native Texas "thistle"

Is it really “thistle”?

Be aware of what Goldfinches like to eat. The small, black seed that Goldfinches are crazy about is not the same as the “thistle” that grows here in Texas. The popular seed for Goldfinches is Nyjer (nī-jĕr), which is only sold in bags because it comes from overseas. It’s a trademarked name. The U.S.D.A. requires that it be heated (250 degrees for 15 minutes) at customs. So its “freshness” has a life of only 6 or 7 months. Even with all this government-mandated processing, Goldfinches love it, and eat all of it instead of throwing it on the ground.   But they won’t if given last season’s dried-out Nyjer seed.

 Nyjer thistle is costly, so I mostly use ordinary Black-oil Sunflower seeds to attract Goldfinches, which is a far less costly seed, and they seem to eat it just as readily.


That’s 27 widespread species         Wild birds that nest in all 48 contiguous states (including Texas), according to Bird Watcher’s Digest:  Killdeer, Common Yellowthroat, Mourning Dove, Great-horned Owl, Great blue Heron, Coopers Hawk, Turkey Vulture, American Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk, Wild Turkey, Rock Dove, House Sparrow, Common Nighthawk, American Crow, Belted Kingfisher, European Starling, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Rough-winged Swallow, Barn Swallow, American Robin, White-breasted Nuthatch, Chipping Sparrow, Cowbird, House Finch and Red-winged Blackbird.           How many have you seen around north Texas?



OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at in Denton.