Lesser But Not Least


House Finches swarmed in flocks of many dozens this morning up in the rough slope on the east side of the park.  Sometimes other finches with a yellow coat flew mixed in with them.  I also saw yellow finches alone on the north side.  My guess is that these yellow finches are the Lesser Goldfinch. Their yellow isn’t as intense as the American Goldfinches I saw a couple of months ago in the berry patch on the south side.  I’m no bird expert so if you know better, feel free to add a comment here.

The Cornell bird lab website gives these “Cool Facts” about Lesser Goldfinches:

  • Male Lesser Goldfinches in the eastern part of their range in the U.S. tend to have black backs. Along the West Coast, their backs are green, with only a black cap. Elsewhere, the amount of black varies, with many birds having partly green backs. South of central Mexico, all of the males are black-backed.
  • Lesser Goldfinches are most common in California and Texas, with pockets of local populations throughout the rest of its U.S. range.
  • At feeding sites, Lesser Goldfinches typically mix in with other birds, such as Lawrence’s and American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, House Finches, Lark Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, and Western Bluebirds.
  • Where their ranges overlap in California, the Lesser Goldfinch—though smaller—dominates the Lawrence’s Goldfinch. The Lesser Goldfinch eats first at feeding stations and chases Lawrence’s Goldfinches away from nesting sites.
  • The oldest known wild Lesser Goldfinch was a male, and at least 7 years old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in California in 2015.
Lesser Goldfinch with House Finch male

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