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smittyone@cox.net

Am. Goldfinch question

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Seen this afternoon north of Omaha, NE.  I believe both of these American Goldfinches are molting adults.  Or at least molting into adult plumage.  Is the lower bird more yellow because it is simply further along in the molting process?  Or is the lower bird a male and the other a female?

DSC08028a.jpg

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The indistinctness of the white tail spots indicates that it is a young of the year and, if that is correct, then a male; compare to the more-distinct tail spots on the right bird (which should identify it as an older bird). Immature males will not obtain any bright yellow plumage until the prealternate molt in spring. The blackness of the wing of the left bird also suggests that it's a male. At least, that's what Pyle 1997 says.

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