American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch, breeding male

At the corner of Marina Boulevard and the Virginia Street extension, just outside the Berkeley Meadow fence, there’s a patch of wild blackberries.  Only a very few are ripe already.  However, the patch must be a magnet for bugs, because about a dozen Barn Swallows kept on buzzing over and around it, snatching their meals in midair.

A small flock of House Finches also gathered on a dead bush at the edge of the patch.  They seemed more interested in social togetherness than in feeding.  Then, for some reason I could not see, they all took flight, leaving just a couple of birds on the branches.

One of them, as I focused in, turned out to be not a House Finch, but a comparatively spectacular American Goldfinch male in full breeding plumage: bright yellow breast and back, black head and wings, almost like a tropical bird.  These birds are said to be common at backyard feeders, but we’ve never seen one like this at ours, only the Lesser Goldfinches with their comparatively drab and pale coloring.  It’s a New Bird in my personal Cesar Chavez Park bird list.  Although a finch, this individual showed no inclination to hang out with the House Finches; it stayed and flew off quite independently of their flock.

Here’s another snapshot of this bird, or one like it, at the same site a few days later:

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