Posted by on Sep 6, 2012 in Susan LeVine

There is something wondrous about watching a goldfinch on a thistle feeder. When I lived in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago I always had a thistle feeder primarily to attract goldfinches. I had a feeder outside of my bedroom window and I watched their feathers change color with the seasons. In the fall and winter they were grey green and when spring came they turned golden. The little black cap on the male was present no matter the season. I watched them do their acrobatics eating from the feeder upside down,right side up twelve jammed in together fighting for seed or maybe just one eating at a relaxed pace. I saw their feather bristle in the snow and watched them glisten in the sunlight. They were always magic to me, like golden keys to a hidden world. Goldfinches are more sensitive to their environment than other finches. They are often quick to flee if they think they are being watched. It’s true that their beauty and delicacy compared to the larger house or purple finch makes them vulnerable so I always try to find a space for their feeder where they are somewhat protected.

In Santa Barbara, their feathers do not change color with the season and thistle grows wild here. Yet, the little golden ones still appear at my thistle sock. When I first moved here I put up a regular thistle feeder but they wouldn’t come to my yard. Then I discovered the socks, goldfinches love thistle socks so that is what I have in my guarded spot in my yard.

It was the season that goldfinches were nesting and they deemed my yard safe enough to have their babies hatch and so they builtĀ  their nests in my yard. I was so honored! One day a blue jay appeared and then a red-tailed hawk. There was a lot of noise. The goldfinches disappeared. I was so sad. They didn’t come back for months. I kept putting out thistle but they said,”Nothing doing.” Eventually they trusted my yard again for food but I haven’t seen nests again since that time.

Here is a painting of Goldfinches that I made in the bathtub!