It’s been rather quiet around my bird feeders recently, but thankfully the goldfinches are cooperating. They’ve been frequent visitors to the feeders, and I’m thoroughly enjoying their company. It’s just plain fun to watch these bright yellow “wild canaries” in their bouncing flight and warbling song, not only at the feeders, but also as they cross the meadows, croplands, and forest edges in the area. Goldfinches brighten our days, literally and figuratively.
Goldfinches are mainly seed eaters, and exhibit a strong preference for seeds of the daisy family. No doubt many of you know they are particularly fond of niger (nyger), or thistle seed. They’ll frequent feeders with sunflower seeds too, but if you really want to attract goldfinches to your yard, fill at least one feeder with niger seed, then sit back and enjoy the show. Even when you’re not paying much attention, their seemingly constant warbling is a joy to hear.
Goldfinches are perhaps the latest bird to nest in our area (and elsewhere). Their nesting season usually doesn’t start until late June and may continue well into September. The timing is assumed to be associated with abundance of seeds for the young as well as availability of thistle down, which is used to line the insides of their nests. That is important for the development of between two and seven eggs that will be laid in the nest.
Most range maps show goldfinches living mainly in the United States, with their winter range across the southern states, permanent resident across the middle of the country, and the northern portions of the United States and southern Canada as summer range. They can often be seen around our area for much of the winter, particularly during mild winters. They’re easily overlooked, however, because their winter plumage is a dull yellow. Unless you look closely you might dismiss them as sparrows.
So, whether you are driving through the area or watching your feeders, be on the lookout for these little yellow gems. Make a point to take the time to enjoy the goldfinches. I guarantee they will entertain you and make your day a little brighter.
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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