At the height of the summer season it was broad daylight at 5:30 a.m.  Now as I drive out of the garage and head for the train station at that time, the darkness is broken by front porch lights and street lamps.  A reminder that the days have grown shorter.  The commuter rail platform is awash in the ugly yellow glow from lights dotting the ceiling of the brown wooden arcade that offers skimpy shelter to commuters in inclement weather.  I no longer hear Cardinals singing out their territories.  Summer has moved on. The leaves are turning.  Autumn is here.

mature male goldfinch

A mature goldfinch, like this male in his summer breeding finery, can “hang around” comfortably munching on seed from a species-specific feeder.

It’s when the “Cinnamons” arrive.  That’s my nick-name for the late-summer / early autumn cinnamon-colored American Goldfinch fledglings that appear at my feeders.  They are the noisiest fledglings!

With olive-colored plumage during winter, adult Goldfinch males molt into bright yellow with little black caps in breeding season.  Females retain their olive feather coats year-around.  The adults take their turns at the feeders.  The peace is broken when cinnamon-colored youngsters follow their parents to the feeders.

Goldfinches nest later in the season than most birds.  It’s later in the year when their favorite silky plant fluff for nests and thistle for food are abundant in the fields.  Their August and September fledglings are just beginning to learn the ropes while the springtime avian young are fairly well on their own emerging as young adults.

fledgling goldfinch slipping off of its feeder

Oops! A common sight as the season’s youngest learn how to negotiate a Goldfinch feeder.

The young Cinnamons are unsure of their footing.  Many a time they try but are unsuccessful mimicking the adults who casually hang upside down for minutes on end from the specialized Goldfinch feeder.

The little ones belly flop over the side of the perch just to find they haven’t mastered the art of clinging.  They flutter back to a tree branch.  Frustrated, they call more loudly, “Mom!  Dad!  Do you expect me to be able to feed myself?  Feed me!”

fledgling American goldfinch

This fledgling American Goldfinch, wearing its juvenile cinnamon feathers, is getting the “hang” of munching Nyger seed from the Goldfinch feeder.



I love watching the Goldfinch youngsters.  Cinnamons.  They’re vocal and insistent.  They beg food from any winged adult nearby — parents or not.

As the season moves on, they become more sure-footed and begin to comfortably cling upside down at the feeder.

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10 Responses to Cinnamons

  1. Bob says:

    Beautifully written and great photos, too. We got to see American Goldfinches during our month-long trip to Oregon and Lopez Island, but here in Arizona they are an unseen (for me) rarity. We do have Lesser Goldfinches and, often in winter, the beautiful Lawrence’s Goldfinches. We also use those ‘upside down’ thistle feeders to discourage House Finches, who otherwise clean out the expensive thistle. A year ago we had one House Finch determined to feed upside down, a feat their weight prevents supposedly. He learned to grasp the perching rod, loosen his grip and spin down and back upright, grabbing a seed on the way. Soon he was doing multiple ‘cartwheels’ and feeding successfully. Only problem was when he left the feeder he staggered around on the ground, so dizzy he couldn’t walk straight.

    • Thanks for your nice remarks. Yes, those House Finches do eat up a lot of seed. Very funny story about your dizzy finch!

      Thanks for stopping in. Wish birding out west was on my to-do list …. but no time soon.

  2. You’re back! Great photos. I saw a blue tit hanging by one claw on a fat cake feeder, not because it had lost its footing but because it could!

    • Oh, I have not gone far. Still sitting at the same computer. Just have completely overwhelmed myself with too many projects. I have to get a better grip on things!

      The Blue Tits are darling little birds! I’m sure they cheer up your garden.

      Thanks for stopping in and dropping off a note! 🙂

  3. Deb Platt says:

    Enjoyed the finch photos and the article. For some reason the finches haven’t been using my Nyger feeder. I finally decided today that something must be wrong with the seeds (too old? moldy?), and I brought the unit in and cleaned it. They have been stopping by for sunflower seeds, though.

    Surprisingly (to me, anyway), I have a fledgling cardinal learning to feed at my feeding station. I thought it was kind of late in the season for cardinals. Maybe a second brood?

    • I’ve noticed some late blooming Cardinal juveniles, too. Yes, they do have more than one brood.

      It could be the Nyger seed in your feeder is moldy. The birds can get a bit picky if seed is not fresh.

      Thanks for stopping in!

  4. That is a cute name for them. Most often ours disappear for a time during breeding season and return by winter. But this year, we saw a begging young and dad in the feeding area. A sweet sight. 🙂 It was our first year to put out white fluff for the Goldfinches and we think one pair nested in the south yard.

  5. Jim in IA says:

    They are some of my favorites to watch. They only eat seeds. Nothing else. Nice pictures.

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