Goldfinches are gold in color, right? Not during the fall and winter months, when the males’ plumage fades to match the dull brown brown of the females.
One of the surest signs of spring is the return of that bright yellow glint of color to my birdfeeder. But it doesn’t happen all at once. Most of the small species of songbirds have a complete molt in the late summer or early fall. Some, like the goldfinch, have a partial molt in the spring.
The wing and tail feathers remain, but the goldfinch’s dull-colored plumage wears out and disintegrates. This slideshow shows the month-to-month progression of their color changes.
A recent commotion at my birdfeeder got me to look up from my newspaper, and I saw goldfinch males in the midst of molting, a mixture of bright gold and dull brown-gray. It is good to see their bright yellow return. Just like the forsythia and daffodils.