Natural Sightings #548 - Lesser Goldfinches.JPG

A group of Lesser Goldfinches visits a finch feeder.

Sue Marzorati took this photo in Stallion Springs of a group of Lesser Goldfinches visiting a finch feeder that she had just hung up the day before.

Lesser Goldfinches (Spinus psaltria) are the most frequently seen of the three species of Goldfinches that visit the Tehachapi area. The other two are American Goldfinches and Lawrence's Goldfinches. Oldtimers often referred to this beautiful little bird as wild canaries.

Goldfinches are gregarious birds that typically forage in small flocks. They primarily eat seeds from the sunflower family, a very large family of plants known as Asteraceae, or Compositae. You can often see Lesser Goldfinches clinging near the seed heads at tops of slender plants that bend under the slight weight of the birds, who as a result often find themselves feeding upside down.

Lesser Goldfinches also eat new buds of oaks, willows and cottonwoods, as well as assorted wild berries and sometimes tiny insects.

Male Lesser Goldfinches have a black cap or beret, and yellowish undersides. They also have an olive green or yellowish backs. Females and immature males lack the black cap, and are drabber overall. They all have a small white rectangle on the outer edge of their wings.

Goldfinches are tiny, only three or four inches long, and they flit and move in what has been described as small "jabbering clouds" of finches, softly vocalizing to each other as they forage. They like mixed, open habitats and will readily come to thistle feeders.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: editorial@tehachapinews.com.