The American Goldfinch

He has been in disguise all winter.  You may not have realized that Mr. Goldfinch has been in your yard all along.  With the coming of Fall, the male Goldfinch forsakes his bright yellow livery for a Winter drab olive.
Some folks assume the Goldfinches migrate.  They don’t from our region of Georgia, however.  They are year-round residents here.  If you feed the birds year-round (as everyone should), the Goldfinch have been eating the shelled sunflower seeds from your Wild Birds Unlimited No-Mess Blend throughout the gray (and sometimes even snowy) days of this past Winter.
But now that Spring will soon arrive, you’ll see the male Goldfinches coming to your feeders with hints of the brilliant yellow feathers that are about to emerge.
One day soon, you’ll look out your window and be stunned by the brilliant yellow bird with black highlights feeding on your shelled sunflower seeds and nyjer.  Voila!  Mr. Goldfinch has returned with his mating season colors!
Your eyes will be dazzled with his brilliance.  It’s like watching Dorothy open the door of her cyclone-relocated farm house at that moment when “The Wizard Of Oz” transitions from black-and-white into glorious Technicolor!
This incredible reincarnation of the male Goldfinch beginning all around us in March is why we have made the American Goldfinch our bird of the month here at Wild Birds Unlimited Of Vinings.
Goldfinches are the only member of the finch family that molts twice each year, in early spring and late summer.  They also are late nesters.  While the Bluebirds and Brown-Headed Nuthatches get started in March, the Goldfinches are content to eat heartily and look beautiful all the way until they get about their nesting business (one brood annually) in late June or early July.
Why the wait?  Well, the Goldfinches are programmed to defer nesting until some of their favorite plants — such as milkweed, thistle, and cone flower — have produced their hallmark fibrous seeds.
Goldfinches also eat seeds from dandelions, marigolds, zinnias, and cosmos.  In the bird world, they are the strictest of all vegetarians — seeds only, please!  And woe betide the invasive female Cowbird who sneaks one of her eggs into a Goldfinch’s nest:  the Cowbird nestling will not thrive, because it cannot survive on a seed-only diet!
And what of the Goldfinch’s song?  The pioneering ornithologist, Florence Merriam, observed in her 1889 book, “Birds Through An Opera-Glass,” that “[o]ur Goldfinch is not a musician when it comes to his long song.  That is a canary jumble of notes whose greatest charm is its light-heartedness.”  Ms. Merriam, however, softened the critique by observing, “But though he is not as finished a songster as the canary, during the summer he is much prettier, for then his yellow suit is richly trimmed with black markings.”
Celebrate American Goldfinch month by welcoming this miraculous avian wonder to your feeders!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *