Monday, March 25, 2013

They Are Turning Yellow Already

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.


Carolina Linthead said...

I love them! I need to rethink my feeders this summer. Our first summer in Xenia we had SO many goldfinches. I want to see more of them this summer.

troutbirder said...

The irruption of the pine siskins, is erupting here as well. They have left for the north country but the juncoes are still here. Our goldfinches stay here year around and the yellow is just starting to show...:)

"Just Me - NC Beth" said...

How special! and a great reminder Spring is (almost) here!

Janie said...

I love seeing the bright yellow goldfinches, too. I'm hoping to see them soon.

Rudee said...

It's cold here, too, but maybe soon we'll see proof that it's spring. We did miss this last snowstorm, and for that, I'm grateful.

Your goldfinch is very handsome.

Ms. A said...

Look at that color! Lovely!

Busy Bee Suz said...

I had no idea about the cowbirds doing that....I no likey!
The goldfinch are gorgeous. I hope you get your fair share this year. Stay warm!

robin andrea said...

We hardly ever see the Goldfinch here, but we do see the Lesser Goldfinch quite often. The true bird pest of our yard is the HUGE Band-tailed Pigeon. They are a native species, so I know they have to be here, but they eat so much of the bird seed that it drives me a little crazy! I always feel bad for our little natives who hardly have a chance at the seed.

NanaNor's said...

Hi, I love Goldfinches-we have them here too, but only in the spring and summer. Being in a suburban neighborhood, they are the only pretty birds we get. We also get Juncos and a bird I dislike-the Grackle. I have stopped feeding the smaller birds(other than with flowers)because the grackles come in and kill the small birds-leaving dead carcasses on our lawn-I'm talking 10-15 at a time.
Thanks for sharing this treasure.
Hugs, Noreen


Very interesting about the relationship of cowbirds, goldfinches and a seed diet. I guess the cowbirds are smart but not that smart to leave their eggs in a goldfinch nest. -- barbara

Cicero Sings said...

Oh those Pine Siskins! Pests in deed. Our weather here is really very pleasant and seems spring is well on the way. No planting though until near the end of May. Sigh. Geese have been back a while and robins too. Swans have been spotted as well though I haven't seen them myself.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.