On The Wild Side: Visit by goldfinches was a memorable one

Goldfinches are are stunning little birds that are hard to miss due to their unique colour. Photo by Ann Brokelman.


Have you recently sat in your yard and just listened to all the songs being sung?

Maybe it’s too hard to really remember and compare summer to summer, but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever heard so many birds in my yard. Even my husband, Erle, asked if we’ve been having more birds than in other years.

Today’s story begins with me sitting my yard, enjoying the sounds of a half-dozen birds, when I heard the twittering po-ta-to-chip po-ta-to-chip of a dozen American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) who arrived in my yard.

Their unique colour makes it impossible to miss these stunning little birds. The males are bright yellow with a black cap, tail, and wings. The females are duller, grayer and a little smaller at 11 to 13 centimetres.

I had one of these finches hit my front window. Whenever we hear a window strike, my husband or I will go outside to see if the bird has flown away, been stunned, or died.

So tiny was this little finch that he was hard to find among the flowers and plants of our garden.  I found that he was stunned, so I carefully picked him up, put him in a knitted nest in a box with air-holes, and brought him inside to my computer room.

Two hours later I went to have a peak to see if he, hopefully, was recovering or if he, sadly, had passed away.

As soon as I cracked the lid, out of box he flew and around the room he buzzed!

I quickly closed the door, got a chair, and carefully picked him up off of the ceiling light, where he landed, before putting him back in the box. Right away I took him outside, opened the box, and he took off to join his friends. A few moments later all the gold finches had taken off in the direction of the bluffs.

While I’d like to hope my little friend told the other finches about my hospitality, its just as likely that this is how tales of alien abductions spread among the bird communities.

A couple of fascinating finch facts: A group of goldfinch is called a “charm” and the American goldfinch can burrow under the snow, to keep warm, when the winter weather gets to be too cold.

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