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.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Goldfinches stick around all winter

Many people have been commenting on the large number of finches coming to the feeder this fall and asking if they will slow down.  American Goldfinches are in Michigan year-round. They usually visit less frequently when the dandelions bloom in the spring but then come back in late summer as they create a family and will stick around all winter.

Chickadees and woodpeckers can sometimes be spotted at the finch feeders and soon several other bird “invaders” might come down from Canada too.

Canada’s natural seed crops were horrible this year and lots of birds that usually like to winter further north will venture south to mid-Michigan to find food. In late November to February expect to see siskins and redpolls in the mix of birds at the feeders.

Right now our bright yellow and black goldfinches are changing over to their duller olive green winter wardrobe. 

Fun Facts on Goldfinches:
- Unlike many birds, goldfinches molt their body feathers twice a year, bright, attractive yellow feathers in the spring before breeding and much denser olive brown feathers after nesting in the fall.
- The color of the legs, feet and bill of the American Goldfinch change with each feather molt too. In winter plumage, their legs, feet and bill are dark grayish brown. In breeding plumage they change to a buffy yellow orange color.
- Goldfinches are sometimes referred to as wild canaries, but are actually in the finch family as their name suggests.
- American Goldfinches are common feeder visitors and prefer Nyjer® (thistle) and sunflower seeds.
- Due to their almost exclusive diet of seeds, the goldfinches drink frequently and will stay close to reliable sources of water.
- The genus name, Caruelis, is from the Latin word carduus, which means “thistle.”
- Residential flocks of American Goldfinches roam widely during the winter and have been recorded moving over 4 miles between multiple feeding stations in a single day.
- Female American Goldfinches are dominant over males in the summer and appear to be subservient to them in the winter. See if you call tell a difference at your feeders.

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