Thursday, February 6, 2014

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

February 6th, 2014. With the Chipping Sparrows (Spizella passerina), American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis) are the most numerous birds at our feeders during the winter. The goldfinches eat sunflower seeds; the Chipping Sparrows eat a millet mix. They arrive soon after sunrise and feed on an off throughout the day. They 'eat in' - sitting at the feeder or foraging seed spread on the ground to accommodate up to three dozen at a time.

With a great view of the birds, I’ve been using David Sibley’s The annual plumage cycle of a male American Goldfinch’ to learn more about the timeline of color changes in this goldfinch. 

We’ve seen about 3 dozen goldfinches at one time.

Coming in for a landing.
Winter plumage. 

Until just recently, the goldfinches have co-existed peacefully with other birds that come to feed on sunflower seeds.

A Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus),   
a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), and a…
Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla) posed for photos.
About a week ago, we saw some squabbling among the goldfinches and we’ve been noticing distinct changes in the feather colors - black spotting on the head and yellow feathers replacing the gray feathers of winter.

Hopefully the goldfinches will continue to come to the feeder while they change to their Summer plumage. We probably won’t see them during the breeding season and may see them again in the Fall when they come to the wildflowers to feed on their seeds 

Identification Resources:
All About Birds
- Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 

Related post
- Snow Day And Hungry Birds

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