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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 02:20   #1
Hockey.Lover
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American Goldfinch -- in California

This afternoon, I looked out to my window goldfinch feeder and saw this bird in with the other Am. Goldfinches. I really couldn't get a good close-up since it would fly away when I got anywhere near.

It seems a lot larger than the other goldfinches.

Thanks.

Gail

Edited to say: It also looks kinda beat up.
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 02:56   #2
Robert / Seattle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey.Lover
This afternoon, I looked out to my window goldfinch feeder and saw this bird in with the other Am. Goldfinches. I really couldn't get a good close-up since it would fly away when I got anywhere near.

It seems a lot larger than the other goldfinches.

Thanks.

Gail

Edited to say: It also looks kinda beat up.
Hi Gail. Judging from the size of the bird, the double white wing bar, and the faint yellow-green on the face and head, I'd suggest you were likely visited by an adult female pine grosbeak. The bill shape, though, doesn't quite fit that diagnosis - but it is rather obsured by seed debris and the other mentioned features are fairly well presented.
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 03:23   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert / Seattle
Hi Gail. Judging from the size of the bird, the double white wing bar, and the faint yellow-green on the face and head, I'd suggest you were likely visited by an adult female pine grosbeak. The bill shape, though, doesn't quite fit that diagnosis - but it is rather obsured by seed debris and the other mentioned features are fairly well presented.
Hi Robert,

FWIW, here is one more photo. Don't know if it helps. Thanks.
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 03:29   #4
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Not a Pine Grosbeak - would be MUCH bigger (5" vs. 9") in comparison to the American Goldfinch next to it, have a much plumper look, have black (not pink) legs, and have a short, decurved bill (which, regardless of debris in way, this bird does not have). Also, a female Pine Grosbeak's yellow goes all down the mantle to the rump, not like this bird.

The bird is a molting American Goldfinch - but a very dirty one!!
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 03:36   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexC
Not a Pine Grosbeak - would be MUCH bigger (5" vs. 9") in comparison to the American Goldfinch next to it, have a much plumper look, have black (not pink) legs, and have a short, decurved bill (which, regardless of debris in way, this bird does not have). Also, a female Pine Grosbeak's yellow goes all down the mantle to the rump, not like this bird.

The bird is a molting American Goldfinch - but a very dirty one!!
Hi Alex. Don't you find the size of this bird a bit "excessive" for a Goldfinch? It appears to have nearly twice the volume of the bird next to it.
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 03:42   #6
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Originally Posted by Robert / Seattle
Hi Alex. Don't you find the size of this bird a bit "excessive" for a Goldfinch? It appears to have nearly twice the volume of the bird next to it.
Exactly. That is why I grabbed my camera and posted this. It looked similar in color, but it looked so huge in comparison.
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 03:56   #7
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I have to agree with Alex. American Goldfinch.
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 04:06   #8
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Originally Posted by jcwings
I have to agree with Alex. American Goldfinch.

Goldfinch, then. But a Goldfinch on steroids. (Gail, what are you mixing in with those seeds?)
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 04:20   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert / Seattle
Goldfinch, then. But a Goldfinch on steroids. (Gail, what are you mixing in with those seeds?)

It's a secret blend for mutant goldfinches.

Thanks everyone for answering. Creepy bird, though.
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 04:25   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert / Seattle
Goldfinch, then. But a Goldfinch on steroids. (Gail, what are you mixing in with those seeds?)
Tis either the Arnold Schwarzenagger (can never spell that) of American Goldfinches or perhaps coz the bird in the left of the pic is side-on?

Don't think a Pine Grosbeak would ever show such prominent white wing bars (sure I'll be corrected on that) and the certainly wouldn't have a black cap. Would as a female have a more dirty yellowish heand and nape, with grey on the shoulder, breast and underparts right?

I am bit confused by the bird on the left. Is that a female American Goldfinch? Seems awfully green and with a pinkish bill.

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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 04:42   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lostinjapan
Tis either the Arnold Schwarzenagger (can never spell that) of American Goldfinches or perhaps coz the bird in the left of the pic is side-on?

Don't think a Pine Grosbeak would ever show such prominent white wing bars (sure I'll be corrected on that) and the certainly wouldn't have a black cap. Would as a female have a more dirty yellowish heand and nape, with grey on the shoulder, breast and underparts right?

I am bit confused by the bird on the left. Is that a female American Goldfinch? Seems awfully green and with a pinkish bill.

Sean
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Yes, it is. I am no expert, Sean, but according to my Sibley's book, they do have a pinkish bill during breeding and I think it is moulting, as well.

That bird was similarly colored to the Am. Goldfinch, but it just seemed bigger, fatter and has a dark bill (and I still think it is weird and creepy looking).
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 05:23   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey.Lover
This afternoon, I looked out to my window goldfinch feeder and saw this bird in with the other Am. Goldfinches. I really couldn't get a good close-up since it would fly away when I got anywhere near.

It seems a lot larger than the other goldfinches.

Thanks.

Gail

Edited to say: It also looks kinda beat up.
It looks like an American to me - brown body, clean wing bars, yellow head - maybe with bird seed stuck to its head? Americans are significantly larger than the Lesser Goldfinches.
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 05:27   #13
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Originally Posted by emupilot
It looks like an American to me - brown body, clean wing bars, yellow head - maybe with bird seed stuck to its head? Americans are significantly larger than the Lesser Goldfinches.
Do you think that other one on the left is a Lesser?
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 05:55   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey.Lover
Do you think that other one on the left is a Lesser?
The other bird is a Lesser Goldfinch. Americans are larger than Lessers but slightly smaller than European Goldfinch (just so our European friends can get a bit of an idea). My first impression was that the bird on the left was a Lesser Goldfinch. As Alex Said Pine Grossbeaks are huge for finches, about the size of a Robin.
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 09:24   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gentoo
The other bird is a Lesser Goldfinch. Americans are larger than Lessers but slightly smaller than European Goldfinch (just so our European friends can get a bit of an idea). My first impression was that the bird on the left was a Lesser Goldfinch. As Alex Said Pine Grossbeaks are huge for finches, about the size of a Robin.
But... I thought... ...that Lesser's don't have pink bills.

The disheveled bird just seems like a fatty to me. Saw a sickly Mourning Dove last July in SE Arizona at Mary Joe's (Hummingbird Hotspot) - it was just sitting on one of the feeders, and honestly, it was like the Frankenstein of Mourning Doves).

I'm trying to find some comparison photos for Pine Grosbeak vs. goldfinches...

EDIT: Okay, before you look at these photos, everyone should be reminded that REDPOLLS > GOLDFINCHES. Close your eyes...

OKAY NOW LOOK!
http://www.birdforum.net/pp_gallery/...cat/all/page/2
http://www.birdforum.net/pp_gallery/...cat/all/page/4
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 13:48   #16
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I think we can safely say that Alex is right. Pine Grosbeaks are much larger than goldfinches. Also the bill on that bird is totally wrong for a grosbeaks.

Grosbeaks == honking big bill, the bill is also curved more than the bird photographed.

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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 15:58   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexC
But... I thought... ...that Lesser's don't have pink bills.

The disheveled bird just seems like a fatty to me. Saw a sickly Mourning Dove last July in SE Arizona at Mary Joe's (Hummingbird Hotspot) - it was just sitting on one of the feeders, and honestly, it was like the Frankenstein of Mourning Doves).
I was previously told that these were Am. Goldfinches (from ID here). It makes sense that birds don't always come out of a cookie cutter and that there are some bubba-sized.

This ID thing isn't always as easy as it seems...
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 17:07   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexC
But... I thought... ...that Lesser's don't have pink bills.

The disheveled bird just seems like a fatty to me. Saw a sickly Mourning Dove last July in SE Arizona at Mary Joe's (Hummingbird Hotspot) - it was just sitting on one of the feeders, and honestly, it was like the Frankenstein of Mourning Doves).

I'm trying to find some comparison photos for Pine Grosbeak vs. goldfinches...

EDIT: Okay, before you look at these photos, everyone should be reminded that REDPOLLS > GOLDFINCHES. Close your eyes...

OKAY NOW LOOK!
http://www.birdforum.net/pp_gallery/...cat/all/page/2
http://www.birdforum.net/pp_gallery/...cat/all/page/4
Bill color on many Carduelis finches changes during the breeding season often to lighter shades. I can tell you from personal experience that Greenfinches Carduelis chloris develope lighter colored bills in spring. I think the same may be true for Lesser Goldfinches. Also the amount of green coloration as mentioned before on that smaller bird is a good mark for Lesser.
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 17:19   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gentoo
Bill color on many Carduelis finches changes during the breeding season often to lighter shades. I can tell you from personal experience that Greenfinches Carduelis chloris develope lighter colored bills in spring. I think the same may be true for Lesser Goldfinches. Also the amount of green coloration as mentioned before on that smaller bird is a good mark for Lesser.

Well, IF the smaller bird on the left is a Lesser that would be a simple and elegant answer regarding the size discrepency between the two birds. It's interesting to note that even common backyard species can pose such counter-intuitive ID challenges on occasion.
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 17:35   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert / Seattle
Well, IF the smaller bird on the left is a Lesser that would be a simple and elegant answer regarding the size discrepency between the two birds. It's interesting to note that even common backyard species can pose such counter-intuitive ID challenges on occasion.
So what would you guess it is? Is it a distinctly smaller then normal American Goldfinch that happens to have more green on it than what we should see in an area where Lesser Goldfinches are quite common? The only other Goldfinch, indeed small Carduelis species possible in central California is the Lawrence's Goldfinch which this bird clearly isn't.
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 18:01   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gentoo
So what would you guess it is? Is it a distinctly smaller then normal American Goldfinch that happens to have more green on it than what we should see in an area where Lesser Goldfinches are quite common? The only other Goldfinch, indeed small Carduelis species possible in central California is the Lawrence's Goldfinch which this bird clearly isn't.

You got me! These two birds are in apparent contradiction to one another. One small, on very much larger. One pink billed, one dark billed. Each at very different stages in spring moulting. At this point I'm guessing that the smaller bird is also an American (see accompanying male, in rear of middle photo) and that the larger bird is an anomolously large American -- Alex's "Frankenstein", if you will.

Neither would I be surprised by an identification twist posed in a future post. One thing is for sure, though: I appreciate Gail's sense of humor.
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 19:28   #22
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Hello all, pretty strange looking couple of finches! The following links may help the discussion:

1. According to Cornell, weight variation in American Goldfinches ranges from 11-20 grams, so the big ones are almost twice the size of the small ones.

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAbou...finch_dtl.html

2. Per the "North American Bird Bander" article linked in the pdf file below, males tend to be larger than females, with a maximum average size difference during winter.

elibrary.unm.edu/sora/NABB/v008n04/p0149-p0152.pdf

Like Robert, Alex and Jcwings, I fall in the "both birds being American Goldfinch's camp", with a difference in molt timing. I believe the the left bird to be female well into alternate plumage with its feathers smoothed down. The right bird I believe to be male still in basic plumage, with that puffball appearance that birds can get when they fluff their feathers. Take a particularly big male almost twice the size of particularly small female, have him fluff his feathers, look at the two birds at different angles, and he could appear three times her size...?
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 20:02   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B Lagopus
Hello all, pretty strange looking couple of finches! The following links may help the discussion:

1. According to Cornell, weight variation in American Goldfinches ranges from 11-20 grams, so the big ones are almost twice the size of the small ones.

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAbou...finch_dtl.html

2. Per the "North American Bird Bander" article linked in the pdf file below, males tend to be larger than females, with a maximum average size difference during winter.

elibrary.unm.edu/sora/NABB/v008n04/p0149-p0152.pdf

Like Robert, Alex and Jcwings, I fall in the "both birds being American Goldfinch's camp", with a difference in molt timing. I believe the the left bird to be female well into alternate plumage with its feathers smoothed down. The right bird I believe to be male still in basic plumage, with that puffball appearance that birds can get when they fluff their feathers. Take a particularly big male almost twice the size of particularly small female, have him fluff his feathers, look at the two birds at different angles, and he could appear three times her size...?
It was strange that this "Michelin Man" bird was all puffed up both times it came to the feeder. Don't they usually fluff up and the go back to normal? It was puffed up while eating and when it flew off.

I am including another photo...and not meaning to further complicate this discussion, but am I seeing a Lesser Goldfinch to the right of "Bubba"? The coloring looks like the male in my book....thoughts?

I just want to clarify if I indeed have two different goldfinches at my feeder and thus, am confusing some for others size-wise...
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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 21:11   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey.Lover
It was strange that this "Michelin Man" bird was all puffed up both times it came to the feeder. Don't they usually fluff up and the go back to normal? It was puffed up while eating and when it flew off.

I am including another photo...and not meaning to further complicate this discussion, but am I seeing a Lesser Goldfinch to the right of "Bubba"? The coloring looks like the male in my book....thoughts?

I just want to clarify if I indeed have two different goldfinches at my feeder and thus, am confusing some for others size-wise...
The one on the right DOES look like a Lesser to me, especially with the full black cap (and darker bill?). Whereas the two on the left would appear to be male Americans - and not quite so small next to Bubba as the Lesser on the right or the female Americans in the original post. (PS. Does Bubba ever leave the tray? Could explain the excess weight).

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Old Wednesday 4th April 2007, 21:28   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey.Lover
It was strange that this "Michelin Man" bird was all puffed up both times it came to the feeder. Don't they usually fluff up and the go back to normal? It was puffed up while eating and when it flew off.

I am including another photo...and not meaning to further complicate this discussion, but am I seeing a Lesser Goldfinch to the right of "Bubba"? The coloring looks like the male in my book....thoughts?

I just want to clarify if I indeed have two different goldfinches at my feeder and thus, am confusing some for others size-wise...
Definitely male Lesser on the right, the other two Americans. Female Lessers are pretty drab yellow-green, but besides size the wings are good for separating the goldfinches regardless of male/female or (for Americans) summer/winter plumage. Americans have broad, crisp, clean wingbars, while Lessers don't have such a clear pattern.
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