Jim Gilbert's Nature Notes: American goldfinches are late nesters

  • Article by: JIM GILBERT , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 31, 2014 - 3:15 PM

Widespread and numerous summer residents throughout most of Minnesota, American goldfinches are also with us in winter flocks. Their natural range is large, extending from coast to coast and from northern Mexico to southern Canada. They add liveliness to open country with their yellow and black coloring, their roller-coaster flights and their sweet songs of “just-look-at-me! just-look-at-me!”

This familiar “wild canary” is mostly a seedeater. They come to our feeding stations for sunflower and thistle seeds. For a number of years up to 1964, the American goldfinch was Minnesota’s state bird.

The American goldfinch waits for nesting until late summer, when most other songbirds have finished raising their young and some species have begun their southward migrations. That’s when a good supply of wild seeds, especially thistle seeds, can be counted on. Nearly all seed-eating birds feed their nestlings insects, but these goldfinches nourish their four to six young with seeds that have been shelled and partly predigested. Both parents fill their crops with seeds and maybe a few insects. After a while they regurgitate them into the open mouths of their hungry babies.

The female selects the nest site, usually bordering on or in the middle of a field. She builds a nest of woven plant fibers anywhere from one to 60 feet off the ground, usually in a shrub or tree, always lined with thistledown or milkweed down. Some nests have been found close to the ground in thistle plants. The female incubates the eggs for about 13 days and the young leave the nest 11 to 16 days after hatching.

Jim Gilbert’s Nature Notes are heard on WCCO Radio at 7:15 a.m. Sundays. His observations have been part of the Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendars since 1977, and he is the author of five books on nature in Minnesota. He taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Marshall 52 FINAL
Northern Ill 23
Navy 17 FINAL
San Diego St 16
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 3 1st Qtr 0:30
Rice 3
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close