I mentioned in a previous post that one of my favorite songbirds is the American Goldfinch; this for no other reason that that the goldfinches molt and turn yellow so early in the year. We know that spring is here when the goldfinches turn.
Not all of them change at the same time and it's always a treat to see the variations in yellow among the males.
We have to rely on the calendar and the goldfinches to confirm that spring is here. Like most of the rest of the country, we are having temperatures far below normal for the year. High winds and blizzard conditions have hit the Midwest again. We won't get out of the 30s here today although our normal high for the day is in the 60s. The skies are gray and we are having little flurries of snow intermittently.
Nonetheless, the trees are budding and the goldfinches are turning yellow. And so we know it is spring.
The American Goldfinch is the State Bird of several states, including New Jersey, Iowa, and Washington. It is found in most states either as a summer resident or all-year resident. Here in NC, they stay with us all year.
Interestingly enough, the birds put on their summer plumage quite early, but they do not start nesting until June or July. The reason is because they are truly vegetarian and must rely on the thistle, milkweed and other plants to produce the seeds they need to feed their young. So despite the early molting, they are among the latest nesters. Some songbirds are ready for a second brood by then.
This one seems a bit brighter than the others.
The goldfinch is one bird that does not raise the young of the Cowbirds. A Cowbird may leave an egg in the goldfinch nest and the egg may hatch. The goldfinches will feed the large intruder, but the Cowbird chick cannot survive on the all-seed diet of the goldfinch and will not live.
Pesky Pine Siskins tend to flock with American Goldfinches during an irruption. And this has been a significant irruptive year for them. We have taken in all feeders except the suet on several occasions but those pesky siskins keep coming back. Perhaps they will move on soon. We hope so, because we definitely want our goldfinches around without them.