American Goldfinch 4/19/10

Most finchy birds only molt once a year in the fall but the American Goldfinch has two molts yielding dramatically different winter and summer plumages. Quite a few of them have already donned their summer duds, but this male is running a little behind. His black cap and bright yellow body are only about halfway through the spring transition (wing and tail feathers only molt in fall), but he’ll soon be all dolled up in a dapper suit of lemon yellow and rich black with a few white highlights. They are late nesters, waiting for an abundance of fresh seed crops to ripen mid-summer to feed their young, so you’ll still see them in loose flocks throughout the spring. They sing a variety of musical twitters and warbled songsā€”the one I remember best is paraphrased as po-ta-to chip which you’ll often hear as they bounce along overhead in flight.

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