[Tweeters] Goldfinches Galore; n plants

Dee Dee deedeeknit at yahoo.com
Sun Mar 29 15:43:16 PDT 2020

We live just north of Shoreline (Edmonds area) and Goldfinches have visited our two sunflower-chip feeders all winter. We only started putting winter feeders out two years ago, relying previously more on bird-friendly plants in the yard. The Goldfinches (and many other birds) also really love the sunflower patch we’ve started planting each spring, starting two years ago.

Regarding Jack’s question about changing the Goldfinches’ migration habits, don’t know if it helps, but will share that when I lived in Juanita years ago, I would see winter-plumage flocks of Goldfinches gleaning in, for example, a clump of birch trees in Juanita Bay Park in the dead of winter. So at least some stay here year-round. They are indeed a treat to see, and it has been interesting this year to be able to daily watch the gradual change in plumage. Right now they provide a welcome burst of bright yellow cheer in the yard off and on, all day long, as they come and go—making it easier to bid farewell to the daffodils.

Along the separate topic of planting native plants to support our beleaguered environment and its denizens, I have to suggest one of my favorites, our Pacific NW Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum). When we moved into this house over 10 years ago, I immediately planted two small-at-the-time shrubs, which I now, with a bit of judicious pruning, maintain at about 5 feet tall while trying to keep as natural a shape as possible. Their evergreen leaves have an attractive mix of green and light burgundy, the abundant berries are tasty for humans as well as birds, and the branches provide good cover, even down to ground level for the low foragers. I once watched a Flicker take a 10-minute nap (eyes closed the whole time) wedged into the branches of one of the bushes only 3 feet above the ground.
Over the years, almost every morning just at or after sunup, I have seen an Anna’s Hummingbird hovering at the tiny blossoms (in season, which is as early as February in our yard, despite being said to be April through May) as well as searching the shrubs throughout the year for insects. In season, have also had Rufous Hummingbirds visit them the same way. A versatile, drought-tolerant, low-maintenance, and attractive shrub, year-round.

Touching on books, I also thoroughly enjoyed Thor Hanson’s book Feathers...the Evolution of a Natural Miracle.

Will end this post by reporting species we’ve seen from our dining room windows over the last few weeks—at our feeders, in the yard in general, or in/flying through the neighborhood (about a block east of the Sound and a bit north of Edmonds). Pine Siskin, Bushtit, Chestnut-backed and Black-capped Chickadee, Goldfinch, House Finch, Song Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Oregon Junco (including a recognizable leucistic male), Spotted Towhee (including a recognizable leucistic male), Bewick’s Wren, Rufous and Anna’s Hummingbirds, Stellar's Jay, Northern Flicker (normal Red-shafted as well as an assortment of several intergrades), Cooper’s Hawk, Bald Eagle, Crow, Red-winged Blackbird, Starlings, Rock Dove, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Canada Goose, sea gull assortment, and hundreds of fast-flying ducks on their way to and from wherever it is they go (primarily morning and evening) besides the lawn and cattail wetland-ditch next to Olive Garden up on 196th in Lynnwood (...it’s closed so the ones who beg there must be going somewhere else currently...). These are all pretty much regulars, most seen year-round in our yard. We had 4 Yellow-rumped Warblers visiting the suet feeder daily all winter but have not seen them for several days now...am missing them! I am likely forgetting someone but enough said for now.

Wishing you all safe and mindful distancing (both to and from others) as you exercise or go out for essentials, and enjoyment keeping a closer eye than usual on your own neighborhoods/ backyards.... Having had unexpected visits from a Sage Thrasher, Wilson’s Snipe and Warbling Vireo over the past few years in our very urban-suburban yard (depending on your perspective), it’s something to consider—you might be surprised at what you see!

Happy birding, Dee Warnock

> Message: 8

> Date: Sat, 28 Mar 2020 13:11:16 -0700

> From: Jack Nolan <jacknolan62 at comcast.net>

> To: tweeters at u.washington.edu

> Subject: [Tweeters] Goldfinches Galore


> I'm struck by how long the gold finch have been visiting my yard this year.

> I'm thinking we are going on week 4 of them flooding my feeders.? I hope

> I'm not messing with their natural migration instincts, but they are

> beautiful.

> When the males first arrived they were dull in color.? Now they are just

> brilliant.


> Jack

> Shoreline,WA

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