A sketch I did of an American Golfinch on a sunflower.
I love watching these little yellow birds prying seeds
loose one at a time. A wonderful sight of late summer...
But I think the biggest draw to our yard is in the part of my garden I have let Mother Nature work her magic in…the weed patch. More specifically, the “hated and dreaded” thistle patch!! I know an entire industry has grown up to eradicate this weed, but my goldfinches love it, so I do too. Last week the lovely purple blossoms atop the prickly stems started to crack and ripen, and the soft tufts of down began pushing through much to the anticipation of our female goldfinches who use the plant fibers to line their nests. It only took about two days before the goldfinches started pulling small tufts of the silken thread from the ripening flower to take back to their small, cup-like nests—the perfect lining for the eggs she will soon lay.
Thistle down is a magnet to female American
Goldfinches. It's lovely to watch them balance on
top of the stalk and carefully tug the fibers loose.
They also eat the seeds and feed regurgitated
seeds to their newly hatched young.
Most spring and early summer breeding birds depend on insects to feed their young who require the protein to grow and mature, but goldfinches feed their babies an almost exclusive vegetarian seed diet, with thistle seed being a big part of it. American Golfinches wait until the summer's blossoms have started to fade and release their ripened seeds just in time for them to feed their babies. I love this perfect cycle of nature. Everything fits together as it should.
Soft fuzzy plant down just waiting to be
incorporated into a nest. Goldfinches will
feast on the seeds through the autumn.
Cowbirds parasitize American Goldfinch nests quite often because the Goldfinch does not have the ability to recognize the egg and push it out, but Cowbird babies rarely survive more than a few days because they can not grow on an all-vegetarian diet. They need the protein found in insects to survive. For more information, click here.
One of our American Goldfinch males sitting on
a branch at the top of the half-dead Weeping
Willow tree. He looked so gorgeous last night
singing and preening in the evening sun.