American Goldfinch Arrives with Charm

The American Goldfinch can be the most colorful visitor to our back yards because its shiny golden body is offset by black wings, forked tail, and black hat on its head.

            For bird watchers, finches can be difficult to identify because of their elusive flitting motion from limb to limb of their favorite thistle bush for its very nutritious seed, as illustrated. Finches can crack open the hard shell of the seed with their powerful conic-shaped bill. A gathering of finches is called a charm, like a gaggle of geese or a kettle of hawks, a term used in the title of this article.

            Most finches are classified in the Fringillidae family, including both the house and purple finches, the evening grosbeak, bunting, canary, and cardinal. The brown house finch is a very vocal bird that sings any time of the year, with a high throaty warble while perched or in flight. The goldfinch is no less of a musician and whistles like a warbler, ending with a per-chick-oree at the end, often punctuated with a bound in flight. For this very entertaining performance, finches are appreciated to uplift the musical atmosphere of the neighborhood.

            While finches are treasured spirits to have in the suburbs, they should not be taken for granted because global warming has resulted in shifting the North American population northward into Canada. When leaving familiar habitat, a flight hazard can often be a glass window or a neighborhood-roaming cat.

            Habitat can be damaged by pesticide spraying or by deforestation of wooded roadsides, orchards, thistle patches and, of course, flower and vegetable gardens. Today American Bird Conservation organizations are active in preventing pesticide spraying in its habitat.

            Climate change has become the most lasting up-rooting hazard for finches and other songbirds all over the world. At this rate of revision and relocation, next winter maybe followed by a spring more silent, as in the book by Rachel Carson to stop the use of deadly D.D.T. spraying.

            As planets in the heavens turn in cycle past vernal equinox, the song of birds has become a musical of the heavenly spheres to human beings, and the void of seasonal singing will be ominous to bird watchers, as well as readers of this article about finches.

By George B. Emmons

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