Saturday, April 14, 2012

If You Buy It, They Will Come...

When I was a young boy I had four goldfinches. This was a time when you could easily buy them. I would save up my paper route money then go to the Woolworths store that sold pets.
I named my first two "Fatso" and "Skinny". When I was able to buy a bigger cage "Lemon" and "Lime" joined the charm (flock). They lived long lives and provided me with the beauty of their songs though I sensed they longed to be free amongst their own.

Last summer I was at my brother-in-law's aunt and uncle's house in a rural area of Lyme CT. In their back yard they had many bird feeders and to my amazement, quite a large population of goldfinches.
I walked outside toward them as all the humans remained in the comfort of the air conditioning. My young niece asked "Does Uncle Ceij really think he can catch one?"
My motivation was not to capture one but to simply get closer to them to take a picture with my phone. On my approach the charm suddenly flew away en masse once I reached what seemed to be a predetermined distance.

Now I've had bird feeders in my back yard and though I pride myself in setting out the finest aviary cuisine I never was graced by the presence of the brilliant yellow American goldfinch.
I had assumed that they simply were not in my area but seeing so many of them at Pat and Kim's ignited a spark of hope. I researched the territory and habits of the elusive golden virtuoso.

To my surprise, they are quite numerous in Connecticut and can be lured simply by providing thistle (Nyjer) seed which they seem to find irresistible.
Therefore, on my next trip to Agway I spent some extra time browsing the bird feeders. An employee asked if I needed help and I began asking about their knowledge of goldfinches and if they thought any were in the area. He assured me that that if I purchased the feeder and the corresponding seed then the goldfinches would come to my backyard wildlife sanctuary.
I then decided to purchase a thistle feeder and 20-pounds of seed though I remained skeptical.

Once home, I set the new feeder in a fine small tree located close to many other trees and bushes in hopes that the cover would provide enough security to attract the finches to my Nyjer banquet.
Three days passed and I became skeptical that there were goldfinches near me when suddenly a small female goldfinch descended onto the new feeder. I knew that there would be more soon and I was right. In the next few days I began to hear a nearly forgotten song sung by a choir of the tiny yellow vocalists.
Spring is here and the male goldfinches are beginning to don their unmistakable bright yellow plumes. I’ve set up a lawn chair near the feeders and sit very still with my Nikon at the ready. I find it peaceful to hear the different bird songs and calls and to watch them dance and land on the feeders. They have become accustom to my presence and to the large lens seemingly attached to my face.

Now I have never seen any bluebirds around here but have heard that if you put out a house, made to the exact dimensions and mounted to the height they demand, they will come. I wonder if Agway sells bluebird houses...

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