Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Female American Goldfinches are a duller olive green shade all year with hint of slightly more yellow after the spring molt. The young males in their second year get some of the yellow coat of feathers, but will not turn bright yellow until their second summer. But all of the goldfinches’ legs, feet and bill change from a dark grayish brown to a buffy yellow orange color even though their breeding season doesn’t begin until July.
What is so special is that most birds only go through one molt in the fall. The American Goldfinch is the only member of its family to complete two full molts a year. Marsh Wrens and Bobolinks are two other species of birds that have a two complete molts.
Molting is the process of replacing old feathers with new feathers. As the new feathers begin to grow, they push upward on the old feathers, causing the old feathers to loosen and eventually fall out. This feather replacement takes a great deal of energy.
The goldfinches’ requirement of a large amount of nutrients for their spring molt may be one reason they aren’t able to nest earlier in the season. Another reason they are late nesters is because the native thistle plant bears food sources as well as nesting material in the fall. After the male has serenaded the female with canary-like songs in late July or early August, goldfinches begin to nest for the first and only time of the year. Then they switch back to their drab winter coat.
Thank you Greg for sharing your brilliant photograph! If anyone would like to share a photograph of nature send it to email@example.com
- When Do the Goldfinches Return? http://bit.ly/ytfupb
- Why birds molt http://bit.ly/zvLuu3
- Feeding Goldfinch http://bit.ly/yptDDi
- Goldfinch Fun Facts http://bit.ly/yWunjT
- How to Attract More Goldfinches http://bit.ly/zgmwRk