The Colors of Gold, an essay in images. Post and photos by Dennis Plank
Dennis has been getting his knees muddy and his back sore pulling Scot’s Broom on the South Sound Prairies since 1998. In 2004, when the volunteers started managing Prairie Appreciation Day, he made the mistake of sending an email asking for “lessons learned” and got elected president of Friends of Puget Prairies-a title he appropriately renamed as “Chief Cat Herder”. He has now turned that over to Gail Trotter. Along the way, he has worked with a large number of very knowledgeable people and picked up a few things about the prairie ecosystem. He loves to photograph birds and flowers.
The Colors of Gold
an essay in images
Goldfinches that is. To be specific, American Goldfinches to differentiate them from the Lesser and Lawrence’s Goldfinches that are also present in North America, though rarely in this area. We have had a Lesser show up once or twice. Goldfinches are an edge species. They get their sustenance from mostly open country plants (well known for liking thistle and, as the seed farm can attest, Balsamroot seeds). However they build their nests in trees and shrubs.
It seemed to me that we were getting more grayish looking female Goldfinches than normal this year, and we also have a partially leucistic male coming to our feeders. That got me to thinking about the variations in plumage I’ve seen in this species over the last 15 years of living with a woman who’s been catering to them for a long time and attracts hordes every summer. I’ve been photographing those birds since at least 2008 and it occurred to me that I probably had a reasonable record of plumage variations. That thought led to the idea for this post.
So here they are in all their glory. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
As a person who likes to think of himself as a gentleman, well give the ladies precedence here.
And the Males:
And my favorite plumages and to my eye the only really “gold” finches, the juveniles:
To round things out here are some images showing two or more together:
The mob at a feeder: