Monday, December 13, 2010

A cold Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser GoldfinchLesser Goldfinch, Fernhill Wetlands, Forest Grove, Oregon on 24 November 2010 by Greg Gillson.


The first snowfall of the season--only a quarter inch--caused the Lesser Goldfinches to be extremely unwary. This bird fed at my feet and refused to fly away! My camera lens wouldn't focus any closer!

Lesser Goldfinches usually migrate out of the cold inland portions of the Pacific Northwest. West of the Cascades in Oregon, however, the winters are usually relatively mild at lower elevations, and Lesser Goldfinches spend the winter.

But during some winters there will be periods of days or a week or more of sub-freezing weather. Some birds survive the cold extremely well. Surprisingly, Anna's Hummingbirds seem to make it through a week of freezing weather. Other birds, termed "half-hardy," at the northern edge of their normal winter range, may have difficulty with prolonged cold weather.

A week-long freeze may find Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrushes, and other birds down in the grass looking for food. They may die. It seems Lesser Goldfinches can be added to this list. Even this single two-day event seemed to cause Lesser Goldfinches some distress. The goldfinches I found this day seemed to be lethargic, and either sleeping in the rose bushes or feeding on the weed seeds at the road edge without regard for their safety. This is quite a change from their normal hyperactive behavior.

I have previously written about this bird: In the Backyard... Lesser Goldfinch.


  1. Tough break for them- that was a harsh early freeze. Hopefully the warmer weather will help them thaw. Always sorry to see animals succumb, even though I understand that it happens.

  2. Wow that's very interesting, and a little sad too.

  3. I am trying to ID a litle green bird that crashed into my window. OUCH! I could tell she was alive by the twitching and my first instinct was to get a box then transport her to Wild Arc but I thought I would give her a chance to recover and after a couple minutes she struggled to her feet. She was quite dozy but! soon a male (her partner) came along and jumped on her (a mild kick start!)and they both flew away. Still cannot find this pair. They are 4" tall generally green, no eye ring or wing bars. Wing feathers darker almost black. They were collecting ocean spray from last year flowers heads and likely nesting near here. My habitat is arbutus doug fir garry oak upland rocky out crop south vanc Island near Prospect Lake. Any ideas?
    Just found your blogg its great. I will pass it along to the many birders at Swan Lake

  4. June, I would start your ID quest with Orange-crowned Warbler. They are at their peak of migration right now, are green, small, and lack prominent eye ring and wing bars.