Traditionally, the term “snow birds” refers to people who go South for the winter to escape the freezing temperatures and blowing snow of the northern states. However, there are snow birds, the feathery kind, that travel to warmer climates for the winter months. We refer to this phenomenon as migration.

The American goldfinch is a small, migratory bird that flies from just south of Canada to Mexico during the cold months of winter. Its color is an intense yellow with black on its wings, white wingbars, and black tail feathers. This bird has a conical bill for eating seeds, and can be found in residential areas throughout the United States.

This species is monogamous and produces hatchlings once a year beginning in late July. They wait for the thistle, milkweed, and other seed bearing plants to produce their seeds. Then, this little bird incorporates the seed bearing plants, such as thistle, into its nest, and feeds its young seeds. Eggs are usually 4 to 6 in number, and are a pale bluish white. The male feeds the female as she sits on the eggs from 12-14 days. Both parents feed the young, and hatchlings leave the nest 11 to 17 days after hatching.

This beautiful yellow bird is the state bird of New Jersey, Iowa and Washington. When migrating, the male finch is a duller color similar to the female, but still able to be identified by its conical bill.

In order to attract this bird to your backyard bird feeders, fill them with sunflowers seeds or nyjer. They will eat spilled seeds under the bird feeders, and don’t mind picking them up from the ground. Planting native thistles and milkweed will also attract them to your yard. To protect this bird from diseases, keep the feeders clean and the yard raked. Goldfinches prefer eating seeds, and do not have an appetite for insects unless seeds are not in abundance.

It is said that when you see a goldfinch, it signifies “abundance and prosperity, and the value of happiness and joy….” This cheerful, bright yellow bird is a favorite at backyard feeders, and will brighten anyone’s day.


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