Sunday, August 25

Goldfinches and Thistles

Some people consider them a weed and a huge problem (they are listed as a noxious weed in nine US states). They would hate seeing my field and property lined with purple thistle. But I think they are beautiful.
I have a huge specimen growing out by the garden on the edge of the field which is now about 6 feet tall. Last month it was full of purple blooms and buzzing bees. Now it is mostly disintegrating into a huge composting ball of white fluff.
But the goldfinches love it.
When I come out to the garden and see a bunch of bright yellow finches perched on the last of the sturdy branches, with just a few bits of purple left, I feel like I just got a present. I watched them one day and they seemed to be eating the white fluff, and also flipping it around and almost burrowing in it once on the ground. there were some lower branches that had gone to seed and they had managed to get most of the fluff off the branch into a big pile. The female was sitting right in the middle of the pile looking rather comfortable. Two males were up in the higher branches disturbing the fluff and sending it floating on the breeze like a giant snowflake.
After a little research, I learned that goldfinches do not nest until mid-summer, when milkweed, thistle, and other plants have produced their fibrous seeds, which goldfinches incorporate into their nests (white fluffy = comfortable) and also feed their young.
I also learned that goldfinches are strict vegetarians, only eating the rare insect.

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