My volunteer sunflowers are proving to be an addictive attraction for the goldfinch that I rarely see during the summer months. One would think that with their bright yellow neon glow an observer would see more than the odd yellow leaf falling in the forest. Yet I rarely see the goldfinch in summer months, and I have a number of year-round of this species. (All photos taken through a window, so they are not as sharp as those from a good bird photographer.)
As I sit in the living room with my laptop, or reading or watching TV these little flecks of gold frequently catch my eye as they dart across the windows to the deck.
The mom, dad and a few little ones spend mornings, afternoons and early evenings at the sunflower heads. They destroy the flowers ever so slowly. It seems that the sunflower seeds ripen from the outside rows toward the center rather than all at once. These finch pick and pull at the center and even grab a yellow petal and toss it to the deck floor if it is is in their way. Since the sunflowers are in pots, they often wilt early with their huge root systems and I have to go outside and water and when I do, a flurry of yellow zips across the air into the dark green oaks trees in my back yard.
I watch a mother feed herself and then fight with a young(?) male when he thinks it is time for her to give him one of the seeds. He grabs the shell held in her mouth and she shakes hard and he must release and then falls almost to the ground as she scolds him.
At first I thought this was a young male in the photos below, but I researched and found they do not get full breeding colors until the second season, and since goldfinch molt twice a year, this might be just an adult male in molt. He still looks very young!
He does seem babyish with all his tufts and soft head! Such a cutie.