Yesterday I came across a small group of photogenic American goldfinches (Passeriformes: Fringillidae: Spinus tristis) in a fallow field dotted with trees. They spent some time in what appeared to be an American elm (Ulmus americana, Ulmaceae) picking at the growing flower buds.
This species has one of the most strictly vegetarian diets among birds, feeding almost exclusively on seeds. I’m not sure how much nutrition is present in flower buds, but in late winter they probably take what they can get. In warmer months they prefer the seeds of asters and some trees, including elms. Even now these plump little birds didn’t seem to be going hungry.
Although sporting their relatively drab winter (nonbreeding) plumage, these birds were still a welcome splash of color. Before long they’ll molt into their much brighter yellow breeding plumage.