Saturday, February 28, 2009

Camera Critters: American Goldfinch

One of the sure signs of spring each year is when the American goldfinch males begin to molt into their bright yellow breeding plumage. Even though we just got a mess of new snow and the temps this weekend are only up into the teens for highs I have already begun to notice that many of the males are beginning to change. Maybe each year people should go out and check goldfinch color instead of relying on a groundhog to tell how much winter is left.
Goldfinch go through two molts each year. In the fall the males molt to a drab yellow color and then in the spring they go through another complete molt into the bright yellow breeding plumage. They are the only member of the finch family that molts both in the spring and the fall.
These pictures were taken back in August when the goldfinch are still in full breeding plumage. They were taken at the Marshland Center which is a part of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.
Since goldfinch are late nesters, they usually nest at the end of June or beginning of July, August, when these shots were taken would probably still be part of their breeding season.
All of my best goldfinch pictures always are taken when one of the birds is picking through the thistle looking for seeds, as he is in these pics.
The American goldfinch is a year round resident, at least in the southern part of Minnesota, but because of the difference in color between their breeding and non-breeding plumage the average person on the street is not usually aware that they are still around in the winter.

11 comments:

June said...

Good pictures of one of the most entertaining birds!

Skittles said...

Terrific captures of this colorful bird! :)

G. Crappy said...

Gorgeous photos, beautiful bird! Although, I think he looks like he could use a class in anger management, lol.

ramblingwoods.com said...

I didn't know they went though 2 molts...Thanks for that info as I am seeing some yellow...spring is around the corner... Michelle

madcobug said...

Great shots of this beautiful bird. Helen

Lilli & Nevada said...

Oh what a beautiful color, You are so lucky to be able to capture birds i just have no luck with them

Arija said...

There are so many signs of the changing seasons if one is aware. Your Godfinch is a beauty and enjoying his feast.

i beati said...

gosh I miss them a favorite growing up sandy

floreta said...

what a cute little bird! excellent pictures.

Tammie Lee said...

These are beautiful shots of this bright little bird!

Manz said...

Great post... it's a treat for the eyes and the brain. You've just taught me my new piece of general knowledge for the day - thanks :)

Truely vibrant birds during breeding!