American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

This was one of those shy beauties, creatures that know how splendid they look and want to spare you the emotion of beholding them in all their glory. It always kept a thicket of branches between itself and the camera. I got only partial glimpses of it, just enough to identify it as a classic American Goldfinch. This was a male in prime spring plumage, and according to the Cornell bird lab, its appearance is a signal of warmer days to come.

Cool facts about the American Goldfinch from Cornell:

American Goldfinches are the only finch that molts its body feathers twice a year, once in late winter and again in late summer. The brightening yellow of male goldfinches each spring is one welcome mark of approaching warm months.

American Goldfinches breed later than most North American birds. They wait to nest until June or July when milkweed, thistle, and other plants have produced their fibrous seeds, which goldfinches incorporate into their nests and also feed their young.

Goldfinches are among the strictest vegetarians in the bird world, selecting an entirely vegetable diet and only inadvertently swallowing an occasional insect.

When Brown-headed Cowbirds lay eggs in an American Goldfinch nest, the cowbird egg may hatch but the nestling seldom survives longer than three days. The cowbird chick simply can’t survive on the all-seed diet that goldfinches feed their young.

Goldfinches move south in winter following a pattern that seems to coincide with regions where the minimum January temperature is no colder than 0 degrees Fahrenheit on average.

Paired-up goldfinches make virtually identical flight calls; goldfinches may be able to distinguish members of various pairs by these calls.

The oldest known American Goldfinch was 10 years 9 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during a banding operation in Maryland.

More on Audubon Wikipedia

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

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