Autumn American Goldfinch and Rose Hips

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American Goldfinch and Rose hips, Box Elder County, UtahAmerican Goldfinch and Rose hips – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Earlier this week I left home well before the sun came up, sat on my rear end for over five hours, traveled over 230 miles and the only decent image I took was of this American Goldfinch perched on a wild rose surrounded by scarlet rose hips. Had it not been for this one bird I would have been totally skunked for bird photos that morning but at least I enjoyed the scenery. Was it worth getting up so early and traveling so far? I’m still on the fence about that though I believe that the images I took of the goldfinch are the only ones I have ever taken with rose hips in the frame so maybe it was.

American Goldfinches are in their nonbreeding plumage at this time of the year which isn’t as vivid as their breeding plumage but I like the subtle coloring and sometimes find it more pleasing to my eyes and easier to photograph than the bright yellow plumage of the males in breeding plumage.

I think I can safely say that if I were able to see into the future and knew before I left home that my photos of this American Goldfinch would be my only keepers that morning that it is likely that I would have stayed home, perhaps it is a good thing I can’t see into the future though or I would have missed out on seeing the Northern Mockingbird that may be overwintering in this same location. Photographing a Northern Mockingbird in a snowy setting is now on my dream list.

Life is good.


American Goldfinch facts and information:

Spinus tristis

  • 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.


  1. Elephants Child November 23, 2018 at 10:38 am

    Not skunked.
    You captured beauty. A high price was paid, but the rewards were high too.

  2. Trudy Brooks November 23, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Mia, I love the picture and setting. I am sure it is hard to make a long trip and come back with only one or two pictures. I get a dry run many times when I go to the mountains and look for Moose or Deer.

  3. LSClem November 23, 2018 at 7:51 am

    May your wishes come true!

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