Aug 09 2008

Acrobatic Goldfinches

Published by at 7:05 am under Bird Behavior,Songbirds

American goldfinch at upside down thistle feeder (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

American goldfinch at upside down thistle feeder (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

Mrs. Goldfinch came off her nest last weekend for a visit to my thistle feeder and some unusual acrobatics.

I have an upside-down thistle feeder with a hole positioned below each perch so the birds must hang upside down to get the seeds. Theoretically, goldfinches are the only ones who can do that — or so it said on the box.

Two weeks after hanging it in my backyard, the house sparrows figured out how to fall forward from the perches and grab the tube with one outspread wing, providing enough stability to eat upside down.  They emptied the feeder.

The only birds who were thwarted by the feeder were the house finches who fell off every time they rotated downward to the holes. For several years they ate by hovering like hummingbirds but this summer one of them learned the goldfinch trick and happily eats niger seed now.

Which brings me to Mrs. Goldfinch.

Last Saturday she came to the feeder but instead of hanging upside down she chose a hole above and to the right of her perch. Standing on her left foot she wrapped her body around the feeder and reached up to grab her chosen hole with her beak.  Then she used her tongue to shovel seeds into her mouth. Her right foot had nowhere to stand so it groped for purchase on the slippery tube.

For a moment I thought she was stuck … but she flew away.

I wish I had a picture of her acrobatics.  Your imagination will have to do. 😉


(photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

One response so far

One Response to “Acrobatic Goldfinches”

  1. Amy Fon 13 Aug 2008 at 10:01 am

    Trying to imagine the finches and sparrows doing headstands for their dinner has put a big smile on my face. :) Thanks!

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