This week, American goldfinches have begun feasting on our withering coneflowers. Each one is like a tiny celebration, a bright spot in lethargic midsummer. Goldfinches are found in northwest Arkansas year around, but I always notice them this time of year when their plumage is brilliant yellow. Goldfinches molt twice and year and because of that, they don’t always look as bright as they do now. And as is common in the bird kingdom, the males have the brightest plumage—it helps in attracting a mate.
With mad acrobatic skills, they are entertaining birds to watch, perching on dried stems, sometimes upside down, and then flitting into tree branches, still visible even waaaaaay up high.
No, the tired-looking coneflowers may not look so great in our garden right now, but I leave them specifically for these beautiful birds. As coneflowers dry out, up pop the seeds, and over fly the goldfinches. Another example of nature’s magic.
As a bonus, if you leave your coneflower stems to dry, come Halloween your garden will look positively spooky for trick-or-treaters. And Halloween is only 85 days away. 👻
Ixnay on the worms for goldfinches! (That’s Pig Latin in case you’ve forgotten.) Goldfinches eat seeds almost exclusively, and their favorites come from composite flowers of the family Asteraceae (such as sunflowers, asters, and thistles). FYI, a composite flower may look like a single bloom, but it is in fact made of many, many flowerets.
Just think—if someone gives you a single sunflower, you’ve really been given a whole world of blooms.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
“To understand the world at all, sometimes you could only focus on a tiny bit of it, look very hard at what was close to hand and make it stand in for the whole.”
P.S. Did you read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt? It will be a movie soon!