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.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

New yellow bird at feeder

In spring, American Goldfinch males transform from a dull olive green into brilliant sunny yellow birds. Their look is accented with dapper black caps and black wings and tails edged in white to attract the females. The more mature the adult male, the more extensive the bright white patches are on their tail feathers. The white on females and younger males is less extensive and drabber.

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.

Sunflower and Nyjer thistle are two of their favorite seeds, but it has to be fresh. One way to check your seed is to pinch it with your fingernails and see if any oil comes out. The finches use their bills to twist the seed and sip the oil and then drop the shell. If your seed has dried out, your feeder will be skipped. (Wild Birds Unlimited receives a fresh load of seed each week).

Related Articles:
- 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

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