"Winter Colors"

American Goldfinch

winter goldfinch
          Winter driving in most places brings thoughts of cold, gloomy, gray skies, and to top that off, bad roads. But in Dixie, winter driving means run the car heater in the morning and the air conditioning in the afternoon. Wear heavy coats when you leave the house and by 3:00 you wanna be in your shirt sleeves. It’s easy for humans to adapt to weather changes. Just have clothing with you to fit whatever the day brings. We can plan for freezing weather or balmy weather and adjust our clothing as needed. Each winter’s day weather seems to vary in some wonderful way. I guess that’s why I love living here.

          There are birds living around us who vary come winter, in some wonderful way. But for them, their body has to cause the change. When we think ‘American Goldfinch’, a brilliant yellow bird with jet black wings, tail, and forehead comes to mind. This is the bird seen over and over in paintings and note cards because of its exquisite beauty. But come winter, Mr. Goldfinch trades in his flashy breeding attire for something far more drab looking until most people have no clue what the impostor is - coming to their feeders. From fall to early spring the yellow body plumage and black forehead are replaced by olive-white-and a few yellow feathers. The age-old saying . . . ‘clothes makes the man’ is just as true in birds as it is in people. When it’s time to attract a mate, the show begins and the color increases in spite of the male drawing the attention of predators. When females choose mates, they always look for color change and physical activity. Can you imagine the tremendous health a male bird must have to make two color changes in feathers in one year? The ‘smart chick’ always chooses the flashy and healthier male.

          When you venture out on one of our wonderful winter days, look for the American Goldfinch in winter’s clothing. They hang out with the Lesser Goldfinches at your thistle socks. Have fun! The artist is Marilyn Davis. For questions about birds or the upcoming Red Cliffs Audubon Meeting March 9, 7:00 p.m. in the Tonaquint Nature Center, call 435 673-0996.


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