Monday, July 26, 2010

Goldfinches at Sunset

Goldfinches gathered at my friends' bird feeder last night as we sat after dinner. You don't have to know much about birds to notice goldfinches in summer, with their flashy yellow and black feathers and their quick swooping flight. They fluttered six and eight at a time around the thistle feeder, then shot back to a crabapple tree overhanging my friends' yard.

I commented that I've always loved the arrival of goldfinches as a signal of spring, but Bruce told me that they're here all the time. It's just we don't notice them, because their color is drab until they molt in time for the breeding season. You can see the changes here. Then he pointed out a female, clad in an unassuming greenish brown with faint yellow highlights.

I suppose there's some sort of moral here, about how we tend to overlook the everyday in favor of the garish, but I didn't worry about it. As the sun sank lower, the goldfinches waltzed in formation overhead, dark against the sky--until they twirled, and their feathers caught the sun, sending a bolt of yellow to us who watched below.

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