American Goldfinch my photos, my words

In late summer and fall the fields in Central Ohio parks turn yellow. Goldenrod blooms, joining yellow flowers like Maximilian sunflowers, black-eyed susans and daisies, to form a blanket of yellow covering the surroundings.

Often hidden in this blanket of yellow are hundreds of American Goldfinch, the subject of my featured gallery for June. The birds breed in late summer, much later than other birds, when their yellow plumage is camouflaged by the vast fields filled with yellow flowers.

An immature American Goldfinch drops a shell while working for food, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

American Goldfinches wait to nest until June or July when thistle, milkweed and other plants have produced their fibrous seeds. Goldfinches incorporate these seeds into their nests and also feed the seeds to their young.

The male American Goldfinch displays a bright yellow breeding plumage during summer months but all goldfinch shift to more of a tan color during fall. American Goldfinches are unusual among goldfinches. They molt their body feathers twice a year, once in late winter and again in late summer. The brightening yellow of male goldfinches each spring is one welcome mark of approaching warm months.

A male American Goldfinch perches on a stem in Slate Run Metro Park, Canal Winchester, Ohio.

Central Ohio is part of the bird’s year-round range so this area sees the bright goldfinches in the summer and the duller, tannish plumage the remainder of the year.

Goldfinches are a bit unusual among bird species. They are strict vegetarians, selecting an entirely vegetable diet and only inadvertently swallowing an occasional insect.

A male American Goldfinch perches atop a plant stem in Prairie Oaks Metro Park, West Jefferson, Ohio.

Although the goldfinch are plentiful in my area during summer and fall, they are still difficult to photograph. The birds blend with colors in the fields each season, which makes them difficult to see. And when one bird is startled and flies off, it’s joined by hundreds of others. So it takes quite a bit of patience to photograph goldfinch.

A male American Goldfinch perches among thistle buds, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

My featured gallery for June includes a variety of images of goldfinch. Most of these images were taken with a Canon EF 600mm f/4L lens with a 1.4x teleconverter. The combination provides an effective focal length of 840mm, enough to bring the birds up close without having to move close enough to send them flying.

Click on a photo to see a larger version.