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Posts Tagged ‘Spinus tristis’

From  a distance I noticed a flash of yellow moving from a tree to a patch of flowers. The flight was too fast for a butterfly, and when I moved a bit closer I spotted, as I had suspected, an American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis). Judging from its coloration, I think it may be a juvenile, though I must admit that after a summer of chasing insects, my bird identification skills are a little rusty. The goldfinch was somewhat skittish and uncooperative, but I was able to capture these two images that I decided to share them with you all.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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As I was searching for butterflies last week at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, a flash of brilliant yellow suddenly crossed my field of view. It took a moment for me to figure out what it was and then I realized that several American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis) were diving into a field of Black-eyed Susan wildflowers (Rudbeckia hirta).

I waited for a long time, hoping in vain that the goldfinches would perch in the open on the flowers nearest me, but mostly they stayed buried deep in the vegetation. Here are a couple of long-distance shots that give you a sense of my experience with these colorful little birds.

 

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spotted some cute little American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis) early on Friday morning as they foraged in the vegetation adjacent to the observation tower at Huntley Meadows Park. The lighting was somewhat limited, but it was soft and beautiful and gives the photos an overall sense of peace and serenity, the start of a new day.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes the most ordinary birds are the most beautiful, like this American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) that I spotted earlier this month at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The colors of this goldfinch are certainly more subdued than during breeding season, but I like the way that the yellow serves as an accent color rather than covering the bird’s entire body.

For contrast, I am including a photo from early autumn of another goldfinch at another location. Some may prefer the bright colors of the breeding plumage, while other may find it to be too gaudy and prefer the more subdued non-breeding plumage. Is one more beautiful than the other? For me, they are both beautiful, albeit in different ways. There is an inherent contradiction in beauty—sometimes it seems almost universal, but most often it is deeply subjective, i.e. “in the eyes of the beholder.”

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I traveled with my photography mentor Cindy Dyer to McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in nearby Poolesville, Maryland to check out the large fields of sunflowers that are planted there each year. We just missed the peak blooming period and many of the sunflowers were drooping and seemed a little wilted. Cindy, who has visited this area multiple times, noted that the sunflowers were not as tall or as dense as in previous years.

Several American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis) that I observed in the fields, however, were definitely not disappointed—they were gorging themselves on sunflower seeds. The goldfinches were pretty skittish, but occasionally were distracted enough when feeding that I was able to get some shots, despite the fact that I was shooting with my 180mm macro lens.

American Goldfinch

 

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I mistakenly thought that goldfinches left our area in the winter, so I was surprised earlier this week when I saw a group of them in the trees in my neighborhood. Since then I have checked the range map for the American Golfinch (Spinus tristis) and learned that this bird is with us all year.

Maybe I am so used to seeing the brilliant yellow color of the males in the spring that the duller winter plumage blended in so well with their surroundings that they were invisible to me. Once I spotted them, I struggled to get photos of them. The sun kept moving in and out of the clouds and the goldfinches spent most of their time in the dense bushes.

I tried using my pop-up flash to remove some of the shadows and totally blew out the background when I really overexposed some of the images. Still, I like the effect in the first and second images and it does help you to see some of the details of the goldfinch. The final image was without flash and was more properly exposed, though I don’t like the fact that it was shot at a steeper angle than I would have preferred.

I’m going to have to start looking more closely at the trees in mysuburban neighborhood. Who knows what other birds may be present there that I don’t know about?

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This brightly colored American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) reminds me of the marshmallow Peeps that I grew up with and the brightly colored spring outfits that people would wear to church to celebrate Easter (including some pretty outrageous hats).  Best wishes to all for a Happy Easter, no matter how you choose to celebrate it.

Finch and Blossoms web

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

 

 

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