Monday, May 18, 2015

Mountain Canaries

One of our favorite year-round birds is the American Goldfinch.  Many mountain residents still refer to them as the "mountain canaries."  I've heard many stories of great-grandparents who would steal some of the fledglings and put them in cages for pet birds.  What a shame, especially when theses birds are so beautiful flying freely in the forests.  One of our much-anticipated signs of the passing of winter is the brightness of the male goldfinches.  No one is quite certain why they take on their bright plumage so early in the year when they are among the latest nesters around.

We've been plague by an irruption of Pine Siskins this year who flocked with our goldfinches and drove us mad.  Finally they have departed and we can once again appreciate our little canaries.

Note the chickadee at the bottom of the feeder

The feeder is filled

 A nice drink is always refreshing

Thank goodness the chickadees who took up housekeeping in one of our pottery birdhouses don't seem bothered at all by the presence of the goldfinches.  They are quite busy now trying to force the Red-bellied Woodpeckers away from the suet feeder that is hanging not far from the bird house.  It's an amazing sight to see the little chickadee fluffing up and trying to scare off the woodpecker.  And he always succeeds, even if he has to dive-bomb the woodpecker.  Most often the woodpecker will fly to a second suet feeder which is further away from the nest.

Silly chickadees.  It really was not a great location for a family, not four feet from a suet feeder and three feet above a bird bath.  But it does make for an interesting sight.  We watch them coming and going all the time and never cease to be entertained.


robin andrea said...

The plumage on the male American Goldfinch is so beautiful this time of the year. Their brightness is stunning. We mostly see Lesser Goldfinches here, muted colors but still adorable!

Carolina Linthead said...

We love our finches, too! We've been seeing a lot of them in happy! We also love our dear, silly chickadees...such cheeky birds!

The Bug said...

Your goldfinch pictures go quite well with the ones I posted on my blog last night (which, of course, were taken by Dr. Linthead - ha!). We have so enjoyed having them back in our yard this year!

Lowcarb team member said...

'NC' what beautiful colours those goldfinch have ... it is such a lovely time of year.

All the best Jan

Arkansas Patti said...

They certainly are wearing their best feathers about now trying to catch the ladies eye.

Ms. A said...

Goodness gracious, you certainly do have some finches! How lucky for you!

Cheryl said...

Beautiful I love the common name 'mountain canaries'.

I can imagine the fun you have watching the siskins bringing up their family.....wonderful time of year.

Mary Lee said...

I love goldfinches, but know little about them. I must look up their nesting habits. I can't remember what we have in our finch feeder, but they don't seem to be enamored of it. what do you use?

Sometimes I will see bluebirds, goldfinches, cardinals, and woodpeckers in the same period. It doesn't get any better than that, does it.

troutbirder said...

They are so gorgeous & this year several indigo buntings joined them at our feeders...:)

Vicki Lane said...

The goldfinches are always a delight with their loopy swoopy way of flying. But the glory of the males' summer plumage is spectacular!

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Mary Lee - Their favorite food in our feeders seems to be the thistle (niger) seed.