MY FAVORITE SUMMER VISITOR showed up on Center Island last week. The American Goldfinch, our Washington state bird, is now mobbing my feeder.
Interesting goldfinch trivia from my neighbor, the Mad Birder: Goldfinches are one of the few land birds that migrate by daylight. Most fly cross-country at night, free of pesky daytime thermals — those sometimes wicked up-and-down bursts that prompt airline pilots to tell you it’s not a good time to toddle to the toilet. In darkness, birds also find it easier to elude predatory hawks and eagles.
To an eagle, the Mad Birder’s theory goes, the half-ounce bit of feathery lemon zest that is a goldfinch is dietarily akin to celery: You burn more calories in the chewing than you actually gain. “Oh, there goes one of those flashy little yellow guys. Not worth my time!”
But the goldfinches add so much color to the view out my front window, I’m happy to fatten them up on as many sunflower seeds as they can chomp. Welcome back, Washington’s trademark ball of fluff.