American goldfinches

goldfinches

American goldfinches (Passeriformes: Fringillidae: Spinus tristis) photographed 02/25/2013 near Clayton, Michigan.

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.

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American goldfinches (Passeriformes: Fringillidae: Spinus tristis) photographed 02/25/2013 near Clayton, Michigan.

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.

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American goldfinch (Passeriformes: Fringillidae: Spinus tristis) photographed 02/25/2013 near Clayton, Michigan.

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.

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American goldfinch (Passeriformes: Fringillidae: Spinus tristis) photographed 02/25/2013 near Clayton, Michigan.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, Vertebrate Zoology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to American goldfinches

  1. Mike Powell says:

    I really like these shots–I’ve never before seen goldfinches in their winter coats.

    Like

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