The American goldfinch is one of the more common visitors at my bird feeder. Male American goldfinches are bright lemon yellow with black and white wings and tail and a black forehead patch in the summer. Normally they will molt and look like the much more drab females in winter, with olive gray replacing the yellow. However, I have noticed several males this winter that look abnormally yellow. Two of them even have the black forehead patch, which is usually absent in winter males. I had the opportunity to photograph one of these today, although I apologize for the poor image quality. The camera with 10x optical zoom is currently traveling with The Hermit, so I had to resort to digital zoom, through a somewhat dirty window, in a very unstable position for me. Nevertheless:
The black forehead is clearly visible in this head-on shot.
Blurry, yes, but look at that yellow!
I'm not sure whether there are regional differences in goldfinch coloration in winter, or even if there is a range of normal for winter color. Does anyone else have more information on this? My bird books are fairly old; I must get a copy of Sibley or one of the other latest ones.