In my garden there is a large place for sentiment.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Woodbridge Greenhouses recommends
Plantskydd's odor repels animals
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During the summer months many backyards and fields are frequented by American Goldfinch. Perhaps you can even recognize their lovely canary-like call.
If you have never identified them, the lemon-colored males have orange beaks, distinctive black wings with white racing stripes and a black cap and tail. As with most birds, the female plumage is less conspicuous. American goldfinch measure less than five inches long. Their wing span measures less than 9 inches.
Amazingly, the most interesting fact about them is what makes people think they aren't around this time of year.
Do you have a birdfeeder in your yard? Have you seen any Goldfinches lately? No, they haven't migrated. They are still here, they've just put on their winter coats. Actually, the male molts right after his chicks leave the nest. His bright orange beak fades, too. During the winter months, he closely resembles a female.
Distinguishing males from females in winter requires careful observation of their wing and tail feathers. The male sports jet black in these areas with a yellow shoulder patch, while the female are dark brown.
Some time around April, the male will molt a second time to regain his bright lemon coloring from the pigment rich spring diet...just in time for mating season. Many birds molt only once, in the fall.
To Attract American goldfinch:
~ Provide them with wild flowers in open forests, low-growth areas and your yard.
~Incorporate their favorite plants in your garden. They prefer the small seeds of Thistle, nyjer, aster, zinnias, cosmos, bee balm, teasel, dandelions, ragweed, mullein, sunflower, and alder. Also known to enjoy occasional insects, tree buds, maple sap and berries.
~During the winter, stock your feeder with nyjer seed, and keep fresh water available for them.
More Facts about American Goldfinch
~ They breed later than most other birds, in the middle of July, so their breeding coincides with thistle seeds, their major food source.
~ A female builds her nest in roughly six days, working in shifts from ten to forty minutes.
~ Although her mate accompanies her to gather bark, weeds, vines, grass, spiderwebs, and caterpillar silk (milkweed, thistle and/or cattail down are used to line the nest). It is the female alone who constructs the nest.
~ She weaves her nest so tightly that, in a rainstorm if it is not covered properly by the parents, its inhabitants can drown.
~ Her brood averages 5 bluish-white oval eggs less than half an inch in diameter.
~ Brown-headed Cowbirds may lay an egg in a Goldfinch nest, but the hatchling will usually die because the seed-based diet that the parents provide cannot support it.
~ Although American goldfinches are an abundant species, in recent decades, they are losing habitat to development.