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Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Time to Get Out the Winter Clothes
In spring, the arrival of brilliant yellow American goldfinches is a welcome sign that warmer temperatures are on their way. In fall, on their return flight, so to speak, their stopovers are bittersweet reminders that winter is now just around the corner.
American goldfinches only sport this bright yellow plumage for breeding season, from roughly March to October. They will soon be molting, changing into more subdued, gray, wintery plumage. (The males will no longer sport their dashing black caps either.) The goldfinches’ wardrobe change is a signal that it might be time to get our winter clothes out of storage too…
These birds seem to find plenty of seeds to eat at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. We’ve been occasionally seeing them throughout the summer, but an influx has occurred with fall migration.
Goldfinches are picky eaters; they are almost exclusively “seed-ivores.” Even the young are fed a strict diet of seeds from various plants, including thistle. Luckily for us city-dwellers, the goldfinch’s penchant for seeds makes them common visitors to bird feeders, where they stock up on sunflower seeds and the like.
Come down to Nature Boardwalk to see if you can spot one of these still colorful birds on their migratory route south, before they molt into their winter colors!
Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo
By transforming the South Pond into Nature Boardwalk, Lincoln Park Zoo has created an urban ecosystem in the heart of the city. Enjoy a virtual view as native plants and animals establish themselves in this rare refuge.
As Lincoln Park Zoo’s director of horticulture, Brian oversees the zoo’s gardens, from bud to bloom.
As coordinator of wildlife management, Mason chronicles the bugs, birds, fish, insects, mammals and more that make their homes at Nature Boardwalk.
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