Everybody who enjoys birds loves the little goldfinches with their bright liquid thrills and sunny dispositions! They love to ride the wind like a roller coaster, giving them the appearance of being very cheerful birds. Add the fact that males are a brilliant lemon yellow and sport striking black caps matched by wing capes frilled in black and white, and you have a winning breed for the runway! In addition, they have a long concert season, since mating doesn’t generally occur until July, which has earned them the title “wild canary.” Females are more subdued in color and have olive-drab heads and backs. Goldfinches live year-round in Michigan and other of the more temperate northern states, and interestingly enough, male Goldfinches are one of the few species who molt twice a year: in spring (to become glamorous for courting) and in the fall (to become less attractive to hawks and other predators during the winter season). I will say, molting and juvenile goldfinches look very untidy for a couple of weeks until they get all their new feathers grown out, but it’s worth the bother, because sadly, on a morning walk last fall, I found the remains of one handsome fellow who’d been all dressed up in his Sunday best. 😦 We do have very attentive hawks patrolling our lane! For years I would see a pair of goldfinches bobbing and darting through the air in our field, but it’s only been in the past year that they’ve finally found their way past our woods to discover the bird feeder, and it’s only been in the last few weeks that they’ve made their peace with me and allowed any photography! They may have been so skittish about movement because they’re one of the smallest song birds: American goldfinches weigh little more than half an ounce and are only about 5″ long, which is an inch shorter than even the humble sparrow! (This one is next to a female cardinal.) However, in our case, I really think it’s been this batch of chicks, who are much more interested in eating than being afraid of people. The parents noticed that I didn’t hurt the babies, and now even they have become rather tame. The goldfinches’ favorite foods are Niger (black thistle seed) and sunflower seeds. In fact, they’re so partial to thistles that they generally wait until August to build their nests, using the soft, down from thistles. The female lays about 5 bluish-white eggs and sits on them faithfully for a couple of weeks, although her devoted husband brings her tasty meals of insects and seeds to sustain her. After the nestlings are hatched, Father continues feeding both Mother and children until the chicks are ready to fly, and then both parents work diligently for a couple of weeks teaching the chicks how to fly and find food. Our pair is rearing at least 3 juveniles right this minute, and several are at the feeder or under the feeder many times each day! Since they love mosquitoes and other harmful insects, I am even more delighted to have them patrolling our yard, and I hope they stay through the winter, which would be a first for us. Did you catch the fact that goldfinches weigh just 0.4-0.7 oz? Half an ounce, and yet they’re close to 5″ (12cm) long and have a wingspan of 7.5-8.5″? It’s inconceivable to me how something that big can weigh that little! The density of pure gold is 19.282 g/cm3, so if a goldfinch were made out of gold, he’d weigh approximately 30 oz or 850 grams. At the current value of gold, that baby would be worth $36,652. He’d have a lot more than hawks and owls chasing him! The Bible tells us that there’s something worth even more than gold! Do you know what? “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold” (Psalm 19:7-10). In spiritual terms, something made of physical gold is as light as a goldfinch. What is truly precious is the weight of glory, which comes from chasing God, not gold. I want to be chasing that which has the greatest value. How about you?