American Goldfinches Find Feeders and Get Counted
American Goldfinches, Spinus tristis, have found our bird feeders! Flocks of them have been visiting the nyger seed feeders that the Museum's live animal caretakers fill on an almost daily basis.
Like most finches, American Goldfinches are primarily seed eaters, making them some of the most readily-attracted birds to feeding stations. They are fond of the small seeds of grasses and annual plants, especially a type of thistle seed called nyger. Within 24 hours of putting up our first nyger feeders, we recorded both American Goldfinches and the very closely related Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria. Of the two species, Americans are slightly larger and more numerous, but are usually only present in Exposition Park from October to April. Thanks to Museum ornithologist, Kimball Garrett's hard work (uploading his regular Exposition Park bird lists), you can explore the seasonality of birds around the Museum. Check out the seasonal abundance charts in eBird; you'll find the goldfinches at the very bottom of the chart.
In the spring when American Goldfinches leave the park, they often head over to nearby streambottoms to nest. Some do travel a bit further afield, heading all the way to northern California or beyond. In contrast the Lesser Goldfinches can be found hanging around the park year-round. We haven't yet documented any nesting here, but now we have planted the North Campus, we hope to observe some soon.
In an effort to record the birds at our feeders and in the newly planted areas of the North Campus, this year we are participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). So this morning at 10 am Kimball tromped around the Museum's grounds and counted all the birds he could find. This is what he recorded:
1 Western Gull
1 Rock Pigeon
1 Mourning Dove
3 Yellow-chevroned Parakeet
4 Allen's Hummingbird (one female nest building)
1 Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker
2 Black Phoebe
3 American Crow
6 Yellow-rumped (Audubon's) Warbler
20 House Finch
13 American Goldfinch
15 House Sparrow
Feeders and seed are generously donated to us by Wildbirds Unlimited in Torrance, CA