Friday, July 24, 2009

Where Do These Gold Finches Come From?

(picture stolen from Wikipedia). What I want to know is where have these gold finches been my whole life? I don't remember ever really seeing them around. We live in New England in the North East of the United States. We don't have as many colorful birds around here as they do in, say, Rain Forestville. But we have some. You got your orange robins and your blue jays and your red cardinals. But I don't really remember seeing or learning about any yellow birds throughout my life here. To me, a yellow bird was a canary and it was in my friend Lee's house in a cage. (Side note: I've always held some sort of internal connection between canaries and carnations. Maybe because they are both small and of one bold color and, of course the letters in their names are similar. When I was younger, I visited the Canary Islands on occasion and, when I had braces, Carnation Instant Breakfast was a sometimes savior. Braces adjustments are very painful, folks. The suffering isn't purely social, it's also honestly physical and when you are unable to bite down on anything, liquid meals become imperative. Still my teeth are lined up and straight now and I'm glad for it.)

So, last year, Lesa and I were lounging at our friend's house and he pointed out his thistle feeder which was covered, yes covered, in bright yellow birds. "Gold finches", he said.

He told us that if we put up a thistle feeder, we too would attract gold finches. I was skeptical, but a few days later, we did it. After hanging it up out in the backyard, we waited. But, no magical birds came. The next day... still nothing. The third morning however, low and behold, a tiny bright yellow bird was perched on it having breakfast. "G-g-g-g-g-g-gold Finch!" I screeched delightedly.

For the next weeks, we were visited by many of these little guys. Sometimes there would be four or five of them on there at once. It was like a little yellow party.

Then one morning we looked out to find a black bear eating the bird feeder. Sheesh.

And that was the end of that. I didn't see anymore gold finches after the feeder was down. I didn't see them in the back yard. I didn't see them when I was walking through the neighborhood. I didn't see them from my bike on the bike path. I didn't see them in the trees while I peered out of the car windows.

Well, last week, we finally replaced our thistle feeder and set it up in a new spot in the back yard. A few hours later. There they were again. Our little yellow friends had returned. But where had they been? And how do they find this thistle in its little plastic tube amongst the trees and shrubs in our small backyard? How do they do it? Magic.

What other kind of secret birds are out there? It makes me wonder, if I had the right food, what could I attract? Maybe something nobody has every heard of before? Maybe there are unknown birds out there that only respond to certain foods. Maybe if I put out a feeder filled with only cashews and Skittles or if I strung small tuna fish sandwiches from the trees, I'd attract an ultraviolet three-winged yelling-bird or an un-named lime-green claw-foot.

What will you put out for your imaginary birds? Do you have any gum-balls and yogurt?


brian said...

I love these little guys! My nextdoor neighbor keeps a thistle feeder out so they're alway zippng around. I've been enjoying watching barn swallows too. At twilight they fly in tight formations at crazy speeds and angles.

Rick M said...

They come from very small eggs.