Thursday, January 19, 2006
yellow goldfinch in winter--new photo!
After teasing and taunting me all morning as he came and went with his flock, this very yellow American goldfinch finally paused long enough for me to get a decent photo. See my previous post for background information on this unusually colored (for winter) bird.
I've been thinking about possible explanations why this male did not molt to olive drab like most of the flock (there are a few individuals with varying degrees of yellow; this one is the most striking). Either he, for some reason, did not molt completely in the fall, or perhaps something caused him to start molting early. I had not noticed a goldfinch with a black forehead patch before yesterday, although I've had an unusual amount of time to sit and look at the bird feeder this week, so maybe it's the result of more observations. But if it were a molting issue, I would think maybe the yellow would be far more patchy. The normal time for males to begin their spring molt to yellow is around mid March here.
Or it could be an odd genetic trait; maybe this fellow's feathers just do not know how to be dull in color. That would put him at a disadvantage with predators, as his bright color contrasts with the muted colors of winter.
In other feeder observations, I observed Common redpolls at the feeder for the first time this winter, although they've been reported elsewhere locally. And very briefly a female Evening grosbeak came to the feeder. I've seen small flocks of them, but this is the first one at the feeder.
Lest you think I've come upon some fortune and now have nothing to do with myself but sit and watch birds all day (don't I wish), Calvin has been feeling under the weather so I am staying home with him and Mr. Attitude. I may be getting the bug myself, but at least I don't have to go out and do chores tonight!