American Goldfinch

                                             Photo taken by Bill Leaman

American Goldfinches, Carduelis tristis, have been sighted recently in TheGardenLady’s garden and other local gardens. The Goldfinches have been sighted on TheGardenLady’s sunflowers – those sunflowers in my garden that the squirrels, in their eagerness to eat the seeds, haven’t knocked down.

Goldfinches live much of the year in most of the country – going to warmer areas in the winter. Since they breed in late summer and fall, the males now have on their beautiful bright yellow feathers that must make them especially attractive to the female and are busily gathering seeds for their females and chicks. This late breeding may be related to the abundance of seeds in the late summer months.

TheGardenLady used to think that American Goldfinches needed foods with yellow pigments to enable them to get that magnificent yellow coat the males have during breeding season, so she was sure to have lots of plants with yellow flowers.  But it turns out that the American Goldfinch likes a variety of other seeds.  Their favorite food is thistle seed, in fact the American Goldfinch’s name Carduelis tristis means “sad thistle seed eater”. They eat many kinds of seeds from a wide variety of annual plants such as thistle, teasel, dandelion, ragweed, mullein, cosmos, goatsbeard, goldenrod, asters, burdock, dandelion, chicory, sunflower, as well as seeds from grasses and they also enjoy seeds from birches, alders, conifers, elms and other trees as well as sap from maple trees and insects. They eat approx. 50 kinds of seeds.

So TheGardenLady tries to have a variety of plants like sunflowers, thistles, cosmos and other plants for the pretty yellow birds to dine on.

At this time of the year these charming birds can be easily spotted in their bright plummage as they busily eat seeds for their own needs and to feed the female and the brood.

TheGardenLady loves gardens not just for the foliage and beautiful flowers but also for these plants welcoming in butterflies, beneficial insects and birds to make the garden a happy place for all to enjoy.  What have you spotted enjoying your garden?

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