Spinus tristis

Spinus tristis. It sounds like a sad backbone, doesn’t it? But no.

The American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is a small North American bird in the finch family. It is migratory, ranging from mid-Alberta to North Carolina during the breeding season, and from just south of the Canada–United States border to Mexico during the winter. – Wikipedia

Some sites offer more description.

Adult males in spring and early summer are bright yellow with black forehead, black wings with white markings, and white patches both above and beneath the tail. Adult females are duller yellow beneath, olive above. Winter birds are drab, unstreaked brown, with blackish wings and two pale wingbars.

Some offer more enthusiasm.

This handsome little finch, the state bird of New Jersey, Iowa, and Washington, is welcome and common at feeders, where it takes primarily sunflower and nyjer.

Some offer nonjudgmental comparisons.

The American Goldfinch is the only cardueline finch to acquire its breeding plumage by moult.

None quite capture the effect on me of the American Goldfinches at our backyard feeder, even in a gentle snowfall (which snowfall heralds, I guess, the end of winter since we now know that goldfinches stay south of the aforementioned Canada-United States border during winter and we are just north thereof – the logic is inescapable). Anyway, sad is the last thing that comes to my mind when Spinus tristis pops into view.

A flash of yellow, clear even through the thicket of barely budding branches, lightens the general gloom and lifts my heart. As they move closer to the feeder, staging on the fence and in the adjacent bushes and trees, their shiny black caps and white-and-black wings set off that bright yellow: an outfit rivalling Nero Wolfe’s.

Pausing on the feeder, their mid-moult, slightly moth-eaten appearance is undeniable. Never mind. These males will be uniformly gorgeous in a few weeks. And maybe they’ll come by on a day sunny enough to enable higher-resolution shots through our back window. But for their effect on the heart, the light is fine as is.

Postscript: And so they did (come by in sun) (the very next day). See that twinkle in his eye? You bet he knows how cute he is.

This entry was posted in Appreciating Deeply, Photos of Flora and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Spinus tristis

Comments are closed.