Friday, July 27, 2012

decked out for mating

decked out for mating,
a goldfinch on the lookout
from a sunchoke leaf

A flock of American goldfinches have been visiting our bird feeders for black oil sunflower and Niger thistle seeds. They like to perch on the ladder-like leaves of the tall sunchokes growing near the feeders, one of the few plants still green and growing. Goldfinches primarily eat seeds from grasses, wildflowers and trees, but due to this summer's drought they may be having a hard time finding enough seeds in the dry meadows and woods.
          Most of the year, both males and females are a dull olive, but in spring the male changes to bright yellow feathers and a shiny black cap in preparation for the summer mating season. Perhaps this jaunty fellow is on the lookout for a likely mate.
          I'm surprised that the sunchokes are doing so well in the drought, but these are hardy plants. I tucked a few tubers along the fence a year ago and they quickly multiplied to take over the entire south side of the garden. Even after the whitetail deer jumped the low fence and nipped off the tops of the plants, they just keep growing and now their goldfinch-yellow flowers are starting to bloom on top. Still, it's nice to look out the windows and see a green screen masking the brown grass beyond the fence.

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