Creature Feature

Creature Feature – Late Bloomer

Posted by  //  August 30, 2021  //  Articles, Creature Feature

For most wildlife, the frenetic season of establishing and protecting territory, finding a mate and raising offspring is winding down.  There are, however, still a few movers and shakers out there taking advantage of summer’s late offerings including the delightful American goldfinch.

In late summer, the American goldfinch is in the thick of parenting duties.  Its delayed nesting behaviour correlates with the life cycle of late-blooming thistle plants and the ripening of their seeds.  Thistles provide both nesting material and food for the goldfinch, whose diet is primarily seed based.    

This species raises one brood per year.  The female lays pale blue eggs in a tightly woven nest made of grasses and plant fibers.  After hatching, most other bird species feed their nestlings insects; but goldfinch parents feed their babies exclusively with partially digested and regurgitated seeds.  Young continue to receive care for 11-17 days after fledging.  

During summertime, the male goldfinch is lemon-yellow with a black forehead; his black wings have white bars.  The female is olive-coloured above and yellowish below.  Look for this pretty bird in open country, especially areas with thistle patches.  Also, try attracting the goldfinch to your backyard feeder by offering thistle seed in summer and switching to mixed seeds in winter.  

Article & photoby Margie Manthey

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