He’s wearing his little black cap!

What do you know about the American Goldfinch?  When I first began inviting goldfinches to my garden with a feeder, all I knew was that they were small, bright yellow birds that resembled canaries.  I had seen them zip by in flight and thought they would be fun to watch.

A female American Goldfinch

To my surprise, I learned that the female goldfinch is a drab olive color year around.  It’s the male of the species that is bright yellow during breeding season.  In winter, his coloring resembles the female’s and the little black cap he wears tilted forward over his brow disappears.

In early spring, the goldfinches molt and their breeding plumage begins to show.  The males look a bit mottled and ragged, actually, as their drab is mixed with yellow.  Today I saw one with what appeared to be two yellow strips down his back.  I hope he was not too self-conscious of his appearance.  Later I saw one who was also mottled drab and yellow, but he was already sporting his black cap!

A male American Goldfinch

It seems to me to be a bit early for the boy goldfinches to be dusting off the little black caps for summer, but with the unseasonably warm winter and early spring we are experiencing here in the Prairie State, I am seeing a lot of things I would not usually expect to see for several more weeks.

The gold finches don’t migrate away from my garden in winter, but as their feathers turn from drab to bright yellow, it’s almost as though they are returning from a season away.

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2 Responses to He’s wearing his little black cap!

  1. ceceliafutch says:

    Wow, I learned something today. I did not know that only the males displayed that beautiful bright yellow plumage, nor did I know that they only showed that vivid bright color only during the mating season. I learn so much from your blog! Thank you. 🙂

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