Jul 17 2011

The Lesser One

Published by at 7:30 am under Songbirds

If you've never been to the southwest or California, you've probably never seen this dainty little bird. 

Smaller than the American goldfinch, this one is called the lesser goldfinch

Lesser goldfinches look slightly different from the Salad Birds I wrote about on Friday.  The males have black backs in Texas, green backs in the rest of their range. 

Their food preferences are slightly different too.   In addition to seeds, lesser goldfinches eat buds, flowers and fruits.

Flowers?   Yes, they'll eat the flowers of chaparral honeysuckle and three species of oaks.  They've even been known to visit hummingbird feeders, though not as a steady diet.

So I guess the lesser goldfinch can't earn the nickname "Salad Bird."  Perhaps he's a "Flower Child."    😉

(photo by Julie L. Brown.  Click on the photo to see the original.)

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “The Lesser One”

  1. Steve-oon 18 Jul 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Hey, guess who visits my feeder out here?




    They don’t come too often, maybe once a week. But we just bought our house and I’m going to do a lot of planting and I’m going to double the amount of feeders that we have. Plus we’re getting more hummingbirds out here. I’ve seen 2 out shopping that I’ve never seen before.

  2. Kate St. Johnon 19 Jul 2011 at 8:04 am

    (p.s. from Kate: Steve lives in New Mexico.)

  3. Steve-oon 19 Jul 2011 at 9:51 am

    Maybe I just put out really good feed? ; )

  4. Joshon 20 Jul 2011 at 7:19 pm

    I was wondering, Do American Goldfinches eat flowers too? I have seen the Goldfinches in my yard pulling the petals off of my sisters flowers (to her frustrations). I’m no botanist, and I can’t tell you what the flowers were called, but they came in a number of different colors and reminded me of daisies a little bit in the shape of the bloom, except with smaller centers. (No, I don’t typically look at the leaves of plants, I’m more of a Zoologist than a Botanist.) Anyway, I was if you thought it was possible that they were actually eating the petals or if you thought it was more likely that they were just trying to get to the seeds. (Which I thought might be more likely considering that this occurred in the fall.)

  5. Kate St. Johnon 20 Jul 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Birds of North America Online says American goldfinches are “attracted at all times to stands of flowering composites, particularly thistles (Fig. 4), from earliest to latest flowering” … so I bet they’ll tear up flowers a bit even if they only want the seeds.

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