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Have You Got Canaries in Your Garden?

American Goldfinch, by John James Audubon, accession number 1863.17.033.

©Collection of The New-York Historical Society, nyhistory.org

These are "Tweety Bird's" Cousins — The Wild Canary or American Goldfinch, or Thistle Bird, or Yellow Bird.

Cheerful and friendly little birds, Gold Finches Have been described as "lighthearted as Butterflies." 1

Even their song has been compared favorably with their domestic relatives.

As seed eaters they thrive throughout much of the United States, happily dining on thistles, Pigweed, Sunflowers, Goldenrod, Dandelion, Shepherd's-purse, Sweetgum, Filaree, and other weed seeds. 2

Gold Finches are the last birds to build their nests in the Summer, mostly late August to early September. Come Winter, they stay over, the males changing their bright yellow feathers for olive-drab, for protection. Your thistle feeders and water are welcome at all times, but save yourself some work and money — leave some flower stands with seedheads in the garden for the winter months. They, and others, will relish them.

And, yes, a major call of the Goldfinch is "tweet".

 

  1. Mrs. Florence Merriam Baily, Birds Through an Opera Glass. (circa 1936).
  2. See Alexander C. Martin, Herbert S. Zim, Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants — A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits. (New York.: Dover Publication, Inc., 1951), 188-189.


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