Tuesday, January 21, 2014

American Goldfinch

Mid-January seems early for an American Goldfinch to begin molting into its breeding (alternate) plumage. Attaining breeding plumage is a prolonged process, but some goldfinches have just molted into their winter (basic) feathers by this time (McGraw and Middleton 2009). In any event, we can see this male is in its second year, since the shoulders are not uniformly yellow. As spring approaches, the crown will become black and the body, bright yellow. In its present plumage, this bird might give beginning birders some trouble—I can find no illustrations of an Eye-browed Goldfinch!

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