All hail the New Jersey state bird, the American goldfinch

A male American goldfinch, in its splendid plumage, perched on a shepherd’s hook, Lawrence Township, New Jersey, 2017.

The American goldfinch — the New Jersey state bird, dazzling with yellow in mating-season plumage — is not easily overlooked.

I’ve lived 15 years in this state in two incarnations: six years in Union County in the northern tier, and the last nine in Mercer County in the central section.

In all my north Jersey years, I can’t recall seeing one single goldfinch, the brilliant yellow male or the more green-hued female, in our yard. Fortunately, that’s not the case where I live and work now, the Princeton-Trenton area.

The goldfinches flock to our feeders. They are a continuous joy, particularly in the spring. That’s when the males transition from subdued winter coloring to vivid yellow contrasting with sharp black wings accented by bright white wingbars, like the fellow in the photo above.

The goldfinches dart from the trees at the side of our property to peck at the nyjer seed in the tube feeder in the center of our back lawn. It’s not unusual for us to see half a dozen or more of them on the tube, sometimes sharing a meal with house finches or a downy woodpecker.

When I see photos of brilliantly colored birds in other lands, I wish I had the opportunity to see them for real. As I watch the goldfinches flit and flash, I realize how privileged I am to observe them year round, knowing that somewhere far away somebody else is looking at a photo of one, wishing he could be right here in my yard.

Published by Dan

University media executive by day, blogger by night, I am a well-traveled resident of New Jersey

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