For the past two months I have enjoyed being able to photograph American Goldfinches feeding on Musk Thistle seeds in the canyons of the Wasatch Mountains.
Female American Goldfinch lifting off – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
About two weeks ago there were several female and male goldfinches feeding together in an area where the thistles were thick and I spent some time photographing them as they plucked the seeds from the dried seedheads. Some of my favorite images of the finches from that session were of two birds lifting off after they had eaten their fill.
When the female American Goldfinch lifted off I liked the eye contact I had with her and how graceful she looked when she raised her wings, when I saw this image on my camera LCD I just had to smile. Even though I had a shutter speed of 1/1600 her wings showed motion blur but I like it in this frame because it seems to amplify the motion of her wings at the precise moment of her lift off.
Male American Goldfinch lifting off – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
When I photographed the male American Goldfinch lifting off I had a little more shutter speed so his wings didn’t show as much motion blur but I have to admit that when I saw this image on my monitor at home I had to laugh because to my eyes he looks a little goofy, almost as if he was in the midst of the process of deciding which way to go.
Life is good.
American Goldfinches facts and information:
- American Goldfinches are small finches with small heads, conical bills, short notched tails and long wings. Males in breeding plumage are bright yellow with black foreheads, black wings with bold white patterns. Females are much duller. During the winter American Goldfinches are drab with hint of yellow on their heads and flanks.
- American Goldfinches molt twice a year, the only member in their family to molt in the spring.
- American Goldfinches are migratory.
- Their diet consists almost entirely of seeds and they prefer hanging onto the seed heads to feeding on the ground.
- American Goldfinch habitat includes brushy thickets, weedy fields, grasslands and floodplains. They are also quite common in suburbs, parks and backyards.
- American Goldfinches lay 4 to 6 eggs which hatch in 10 to 12 days. The female incubates and they are monogamous.
- American Goldfinches have also been called “eastern goldfinches” and “lightning birds”.
- A group of goldfinches can be called a “charm”, “rush”, “treasury” or “vein” of goldfinches.
- The oldest known goldfinch was nearly 11 years old.