Monday, April 4, 2016

Goldfinches Getting Yellow

Among all the signs of Spring, one of my favorites is the yellowing of our American Goldfinches.  This goldfinch is abundant throughout the United States and is the State Bird of three states, one on the East Coast, one in the Mid-West, and one on the Pacific Coast.  (New Jersey, Iowa, and Washington)

The goldfinch molts all its feathers twice a year; once in late summer and once in late winter.  Their Spring plumage is bright yellow for the males and a duller yellowish/green for the females.  They turn bright yellow long before their breeding season.  Being seed-eaters, they do not breed until much later than most of our birds.  They wait until the thistle and other fibrous seed-bearing plants provide their seeds.  If you haven't planted milkweed for the Monarchs, the goldfinches give you another reason.  If you plant it they will come.

Goldfinches migrate south during the winter.  And lucky us, they stay around here all year long.  Some of our resident birds are joined by migrants while other migrants move on further south.

At this time of year there seems to be great variation in color.  Some of the male goldfinches have turned a brilliant yellow while others are still rather muted.

 You can see the color variation on these birds at the deck water basin.

 We love having these active little birds

It isn't clear what the real lifespan of the goldfinch might be, but one banded goldfinch was monitored for more than ten years.

The single negative thing about American Goldfinches would be the fact that Pine Siskins will flock with them.  So if there is a irruption of Pine Siskins and you have a lot of goldfinches, you will be mobbed by those pesky siskins.

In our state and some others, American Goldfinches have now become infected with House Finch Eye Disease.  So if you see a bird with a diseased eye, it might have this very contagious conjunctivitis.  If you notice any sick finches you should take down all your seed feeders.  Empty them and clean them with a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water).  Allow them to dry thoroughly.  It's a good idea to keep the feeders down for several days to discourage congregation of birds who might be infected.  Rake under the feeders or blow away all remaining seeds and bird droppings.

And enjoy these little acrobatic birds that brighten up our days.


Anonymous said...

Love seeing the goldfinches there. We haven't seen any yet this season, but I'll be looking for them soon. A lot of our shorebirds have already headed north for breeding season, so it's always fun to see who comes this way for the summer.

The Bug said...

I guess we'll see these guys if it ever gets really warm here! We love them - so bright & sunny!

Arkansas Patti said...

Thanks for the info about the goldfinch disease. I will watch carefully. Haven't seen any here for a while. Still waiting for my hummers.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

When we were living in VA, the feeders outside our kitchen window would be filled with these colorful little birds in early spring. It was such a pleasure to watch them at the thistle feeders. And, bird watching is one of the things I do miss living in this mill apt. Now, we watch seagulls, Canada geese and mallards on the Nashua River.

Ms. A said...

Yours look great! I need to see if I can spot some around the house, I haven't checked lately.

Vicki Lane said...

Love the goldfinches! We too have lots of them. I love their swooping flight, almost like they forget to flap their wings till the last minute. There are wild thistles at the top of our mountain and I remember once in Fall seeing the goldfinches rising like a cloud from them.

Tara said...

beautiful, petite darlings. I've only known bred and captive gold finches. I would love to see them in the wild!

Lowcarb team member said...

So colourful aren't they, and always a joy to watch.

All the best Jan

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.