Birds of a Feather

As we head toward spring, many of the song birds visiting our New England backyard feeders begin to change in appearance. Spring is mating season and that means male birds will begin “dressing to impress.” One of the best examples of birds coloring up in the spring is the American Goldfinch.

The male goldfinches molt into their brilliant spring outfits. New, colorful feathers push out the worn, dull winter plumes. For the next few weeks we will be seeing goldfinches in various stages of molting and they will look a bit odd until the process is complete.

Molting male American goldfinch.  Credit:  Shutterstock.com
Molting male American goldfinch. Credit: Shutterstock.com
Bright summer colors male American goldfinch.  Photo by John Silverback
Bright summer colors male American goldfinch. Photo by John Silverback

In the fall, the process repeats with bright summer feathers giving way to the olive drab for winter

Winter Plumage male American goldfinch.  Photo by trisheroverton/Flickr.com
Winter Plumage male American goldfinch. Photo by trisheroverton/Flickr.com
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