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Sunday, January 6, 2013

"The Goldfinches in my yard aren't bright yellow, like in magazines"

Eastern Goldfinch

    If you’re looking for a yellow goldfinch, try looking in New Jersey in the summer. The tiny birds are nowhere to be found in Texas at this time of year; except in their dull, winter plumage.  In north Texas, in the winter, goldfinches are what I call ‘”dirty yellow” (see picture).  Bright yellow is what’s called their ”breeding plumage”, but you see that only up north in warm seasons.
Goldfinches travel and feed often in flocks. So you may see none on your feeder – then a minute later you may see several on it, and another dozen nearby waiting a turn. Special Goldfinch feeders are sold with many small holes [“ports”] for the small, imported seed called “nyger”. Nyger (often incorrectly called “thistle”) is their favorite food. A close, and less expensive, runner-up is Black Oil Sunflower seed. That’s what I use.
In north Texas they start appearing about mid-to-late November. They usually start their migratory flight back north around the end of April. About that time, they may begin molting their drab winter plumage - turning again to bright yellow. But, unless you're looking at a magazine written up north, you'll never see it.


  Starlings love to steal chunks of suet. Especially from a feeder that's meant for woodpeckers. Put these impolite, non-native birds in their place by using a suet feeder that only has access from below. Woodpeckers and several other nimble, clinging birds will nonchalantly cling to the underside of an “upside-down” feeder, using strong feet. Starlings (a pesky, black bird) don't have the physical features it takes to hang by their feet, and will go elsewhere.
A few friends of mine have had success with ordinary, less expensive, suet feeders, by putting a length of duct tape across the upper edge and halfway down each vertical side-edge. 



1 comment:

  1. Every year the goldfinches return to my Dallas area feeders and stay for weeks after the males gain full bright yellow and black breeding plumage. As of today (05/06/13) I have seven thistle feeders with around 40 total pegs all occupied by goldfinches and pine siskins with many goldfinches spilling over to the black oil sunflower feeders and more noisily waiting in the trees for a spot.