This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the American goldfinch.
The American goldfinch is a small finch, only about 5 inches long with a wingspan of about 7 to 8 inches. This finch can be found on the San Juan River Walk and along creeks in the Pagosa area in late spring and early summer. They can be seen eating thistle when it blooms in late summer and can easily be attracted to nyger (thistle) feeders or hulled sunflower seeds, especially in winter.
In summer, the male has a bright yellow body with black cap, wings and tail, and the female is yellowish green with black wings and tail. In winter, both sexes are duller with the male being more yellowish brown and the female being a grayish brown.
Compared to other song birds, the American goldfinch is a late nester. Actual breeding may not occur until late summer although mating behavior can be observed earlier in the summer with several male birds chasing a single female. The nest is located in a shrub or tree with thistle being a major nesting material. The female incubates three to six light blue eggs for 12 to 14 days. Thistle seeds are eaten and regurgitated to the young.
The female may build a second nest and have another brood while the male finishes feeding the first brood for the 11 to 15 days before they fledge.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.