American Goldfinch 2924 by wmccormack

American Goldfinch
Breeding Male

These beautiful little birds are so common in this area that I rarely even look at them, let alone photograph one. However, at this time of year the male’s colouring is at its vibrant best, and they look glorious as they flitter from thistle to thistle, gathering seeds. They might be common, but that doesn’t mean they’re not very pretty.

These ubiquitous and pretty little finches are often seen at Nyjer feeding stations right across North America, except during the nesting season when they seem to disappear while they rear their young. They breed later than most North American birds, waiting to nest until June or July when milkweed, thistle, bulrushes, and other plants have produced the silky materials with which goldfinches line their nests.

American Goldfinches are the only finch that molts its body feathers twice a year, once in late winter and again in late summer.

Like many of our birds, Goldfinches frequently fall victim to parasitic Cowbirds, who lay their eggs in Goldfinch nests. The pirate egg usually hatches, but the Cowbird chicks seldom live for more than a few days, because Cowbirds can’t survive on the Goldfinch’s strictly vegetarian diet.

Contrary to what I thought, Goldfinches do migrate in the fall, but only from areas where temperatures fall below zero Fahrenheit. Fortunately for us in the Niagara area, our winters are usually mild enough for the Goldfinches to hang around. Their dull winter plumage is dramatically different than the bright yellow and black we enjoy during the summer.

Common and delightful little birds.

Fort Erie, Ontario

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