Thursday, April 10, 2008

Changes of Spring

Thursday, April 10, 2008
Wow are the goldfinches changing fast this spring!
How can this happen that in just a few days, a male American goldfinch can go from this (above) to the buttery yellow, full-breeding plumage in the final image below?

Starting to get a few light-yellow patches.

Becoming more yellow than drab green.

And, finally, the full canary suit of yellow, black, and white. I know these photos are not of the same bird. And this last image is from last spring—I have seen a full yellow male (just yesterday in fact) this spring, but have not photographed one yet.

What a stunning spring transformation! It's not surprising that some non-birding folks wonder each winter where all their goldfinches have gone. "I HAD goldfinches (I call 'em my wild canaries!) up until about September. Now all I've got are these drab green sparrows! And they're eating up all the goldfinches' food!"

Just got word from the home front that a barn swallow (the first of spring) flew over the yard, calling. Time to start putting out the eggshells that they love so well.


On April 10, 2008 at 2:08 PM Mel said...

Amazing transformation, thanks for the photo sequence, it's great to learn something new everytime I visit your blog.

On April 10, 2008 at 4:12 PM Eve said...

Hi Bill,
I write bird poems...they are for kids but I find adults like them too...
Hope you don't mind if I post this one on your blog...I thought it was fitting!


Crazy little bird,
all yellow and black.
You fly so fast
attack, attack.

Your rival you chase
around and round,
right past my nose
with your squeaking sound.

Slow down a bit
you work too hard.
Peck on that thistle
I left in my yard.

Crazy little bird,
all yellow and black.
You brighten my life
I hope you come back.

by Eve Sweatman

On April 10, 2008 at 9:34 PM Mary said...

What???? Barn Swallows? Oh, my. I have a history with them. Get those eggshells ready right away :o)

The male Goldfinches are neon yellow here - already. Love 'em.

On April 12, 2008 at 12:00 PM Mary C said...

I sure do enjoy seeing the transformation of these beautiful wild canaries. I don't usually get any in my yard, instead I get the lesser goldfinches. And many of them are in their fine breeding plumage already. Obviously, they are not as striking as the American Goldfinch, but they are still striking and fun to watch. Eve's poem was fun to read; it seems to fit your photos very nicely.

On April 12, 2008 at 9:27 PM kevbosnafu said...

Saw my first pair of yellow goldfinches here in the Boston area today. Geez, I'd better start planting my sunflowers...

On April 14, 2008 at 11:25 AM MojoMan said...

Thanks for the heads-up on the goldfinch molt, Bill. I just came home to see a transitional male at my feeder here in eastern Massachusetts and better-appreciated what I was seeing. I hope your program in Cambridge went well. I wish I could have been there!