Our visitors often ask, “Do we have Canaries in Michigan?” The short answer is no, but right away our staff realizes the patron has just seen a male American Goldfinch. The male wears his bright yellow breeding color in the summer, accessorized with black wings and cap. He is dressed to impress! His mate will be wearing a much more subdued olive drab color; better to hide from potential predators while incubating eggs in the nest. The bright male is more than a show-off, he demonstrates his devotion by feeding his mate through 12 days of incubation, then helping feed 5 or so hungry mouths for a couple of weeks.
Goldfinches are the last bird to nest in the summer as they build their nests with caterpillar silk and the fluffy part of thistle seeds, which are not available in quantity until after the 4th of July. This is when the birds are most noticeable due to the bright color, and the fact they are very vocal as they try to attract a mate. After the breeding season Mr. Goldfinch will molt his bright colors and change into a similar outfit as the ladies.
Goldfinches make their home at your Metroparks all year. The best time to see them is now. You can attract Goldfinches to your home year-round by providing a feeder stocked with thistle seeds and hulled sunflower seeds.