Jump to content
Whatbird Community

Lesser Goldfinch? (Behavior question)


Recommended Posts

Yes, Lesser Goldfinches.

Looks like you have a male on the left, feeding a female on the right.  This is common courtship behavior for many species of birds.  Go someplace nice, have dinner, and maybe...

Note that immature Lesser Goldies look like adult females.  You may see the same behavior again in a few weeks as the adults feed the fledglings.  I'm not familiar with the timing of Lesser Goldie breeding cycle, but I'm pretty sure it's too early for young ones to be out and about.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Yes, Lesser Goldfinches.

Looks like you have a male on the left, feeding a female on the right.  This is common courtship behavior for many species of birds.  Go someplace nice, have dinner, and maybe...

Note that immature Lesser Goldies look like adult females.  You may see the same behavior again in a few weeks as the adults feed the fledglings.  I'm not familiar with the timing of Lesser Goldie breeding cycle, but I'm pretty sure it's too early for young ones to be out and about.

I agree with your assessment overall but I do not think it’s too early for Lesser Goldfinches to be feeding young here in the bay area

(Also I just noticed the date is April 2023, but even mid-March isn’t too early for young to have fledged, I believe).

Edited by AlexHenry
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, AlexHenry said:

Also I just noticed the date is April 2023

Yeah, I missed the date entirely.  Regardless, I freely admit I don't know when Lesser Goldfinch fledglings leave the nest.  That's why I included the possibility.

 

Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, AlexHenry said:

I agree with your assessment overall but I do not think it’s too early for Lesser Goldfinches to be feeding young here in the bay area

(Also I just noticed the date is April 2023, but even mid-March isn’t too early for young to have fledged, I believe).

Interesting, around here (SW Washington) the ones that nest in my yard don't until at least July/August. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, AlexHenry said:

I agree with your assessment overall but I do not think it’s too early for Lesser Goldfinches to be feeding young here in the bay area

(Also I just noticed the date is April 2023, but even mid-March isn’t too early for young to have fledged, I believe).

That seems really early to me for the Bay Area.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was going to check eBird's photo database to see what young Lesser Goldfinches look like in April in California. And I was going to check Birds of the World to get a description of fledglings' feathers. But both are down for maintenance until 3/21.

For now, I'll just add my own (uninformed about this species in CA) perspective.

Most young fledglings (of other species) I see don't yet look like adult females. Robins are spotted, towhees are a mess, House Finches have angry puffs of eyebrows. And often the beaks look rather different than an adult bird. 

I've not seen a goldfinch fledgling, but I'd guess that in their first few weeks after leaving the nest, they'd look less an adult than the bird in this photo.

But take this with a grain of salt. I'd have preferred to check my gut feeling against Cornell's photos and the Birds of the World descriptions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, DLecy said:

That seems really early to me for the Bay Area.

I think the very beginning and end date of their breeding behavior is not super well understood/well studied. Lots of sources seem to think they don’t breed until April. But I think best building by late February/early March and egg laying by early to mid March occurs sometimes, based on my experiences and some other sources.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For example, from the San Diego atlas:

 “We observed quite a bit of nesting activity beginning in mid March, especially in the wet year 1998. An occupied nest as early as 13 March 1998 (near Lake Murray, Q11, N. Osborn), an adult feeding a nestling as early as 21 March 1998 (Lower Willows, D23, B. Peterson), and a fledging as early as 7 April 1998 (west end of Batiquitos Lagoon, J6, M. Baumgartel) all imply egg laying in the second week of March, and therefore earlier than the 6 April attested by collected egg sets from San Diego County or 22 March from all of California.”

Basically I think the often-quoted dates that they begin breeding activity at the very end of March or April is erroneous and based on a lack of complete data. Admittedly San Diego is quite different from the Bay Area, but I think Lesser Goldfinch is both one of our earliest, and one of our latest, breeding birds, and breeding activity in March should be watched for. Although young probably wouldn’t fledge until April.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, AlexHenry said:

For example, from the San Diego atlas:

 “We observed quite a bit of nesting activity beginning in mid March, especially in the wet year 1998. An occupied nest as early as 13 March 1998 (near Lake Murray, Q11, N. Osborn), an adult feeding a nestling as early as 21 March 1998 (Lower Willows, D23, B. Peterson), and a fledging as early as 7 April 1998 (west end of Batiquitos Lagoon, J6, M. Baumgartel) all imply egg laying in the second week of March, and therefore earlier than the 6 April attested by collected egg sets from San Diego County or 22 March from all of California.”

Basically I think the often-quoted dates that they begin breeding activity at the very end of March or April is erroneous and based on a lack of complete data. Admittedly San Diego is quite different from the Bay Area, but I think Lesser Goldfinch is both one of our earliest, and one of our latest, breeding birds, and breeding activity in March should be watched for. Although young probably wouldn’t fledge until April.

I don’t disagree. I think breeding dates are something that are often misunderstood, and as climate change accelerates, this I’ll be even more important to pay attention to. Mid-march for fledglings still seems early, but maybe I’m wrong here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does the lack of the yellow gape and apparently fully grown in tail not suggest an adult female? Also the posture seems more like courtship to me; I'd expect a begging baby to be more in a position with the head titled back and beak wide open. This image looks more to me like a tidbit being offered and accepted rather than a baby demanding it and parent providing it. But I admit I haven't observed Lesser Goldfinches feeding babies, so that's based on other species.

(Also - do male Lessers help feed babies? Not all species do...) (Update: According to the Audobon site, they do.)

Edited by aveschapinas
Add a detail
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote

When a mate arrives, he chases her in flight, as the two dart through the foliage at high speeds. Eventually they perch on the same branch, where they make courting displays—stretching their necks toward each other to touch bills and calling softly. After a few days, the male begins feeding the female, transferring food that he gathered into her bill. The male also feeds the female when she’s on the nest during incubation.

Source: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Lesser_Goldfinch/lifehistory

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...