About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Old vs.Young: Do American Goldfinches Migrate?

I am watching the American Goldfinches tonight along with the hummingbirds feasting on the feeders outside the dining room window. The hummers are bopping all the birds that they think are looking at them funny and the goldfinches are doing something I've never seen before.

The baby goldfinches that have graduated to feeding themselves are on one finch feeder and the the adults are feeding on the second finch feeder hanging right next to it. Even though the one feeder is packed with adult birds, none want to move over to the less busy children's table.

You can tell the babies by their sleek, sharp new feathers and dark bill. The parents look ragged as they molt from their bright summer feathers to their drab winter wear. The babies are going to be here all winter, so if they find your feeder now you get to enjoy these sunny sounding birds during the bleak winter months.

I did know that in October the Goldfinches separate into two groups based on age. Studies show that the birds hatched this year will stay in Michigan for the winter but their parents will go further south to winter. One thought is that the first year finches didn’t have to go through a molt and have more energy to survive a winter. But I didn't know they were feeding at separate feeders.

Have you noticed the same or are my birds just doing something special tonight?

1 comment:

Nancy said...

I didn't know which ones were the babies. I only have one finch feeder. Sometimes it's all yellow at the feeder and sometimes it's all green. I bet they are taking turns!

Very interesting. I'll have to keep watching and maybe get another feeder.