We’ve been feeding the birds for many years, but our front feeder (a.k.a. “the regular feeder”) got most of the activity for several years. It’s filled with the “Tidy Gardener” mix and draws housefinches, house sparrows, chickadees, and the occasional nuthatch, flicker, and downy woodpecker. We put a thistle feeder in the back, hoping for goldfinches, and it remained untouched for such a long time that I figured we would never get birds there. I would see American goldfinches on my neighborhood walks sometimes in the summer, so I knew they were around, but they were completely uninterested in our feeder.

lessergoldfinch.jpgThen about six or seven years ago, the housefinches starting visiting the thistle feeder, and then the pine siskins showed up. They had streaks of yellow, so I had to accept them as the closest thing I was going to get to goldfinches at the feeder. They were pretty docile too, so we could get pretty close to them. Then somewhere around four years ago, I was walking across the back deck when I spotted a bright flash of yellow at the feeder. I was excited but confused. This bird definitely had more yellow than the pine siskins but didn’t quite look like the goldfinches. I grabbed my bird book, and discovered we now had a lesser goldfinch at the feeder. I’d never heard of a “lesser” goldfinch before. They’ve been regular visitors ever since, and I look forward to seeing them when they show up in the spring (unlike the American goldfinches, they actually migrate in and out of our area). We’ve had both the olive-backed and black-backed versions.

And then…drum roll….two days ago, while walking across the deck, I spotted a bright yellow American goldfinch at the feeder. I grabbed the binoculars and immediately sat down and watched that feeder for over an hour. My husband graciously took over the photography duties so I could just watch. There seemed to be at least a half a dozen of them going back and forth between the feeder, the bath, and the huge juniper trees behind our yard. What stunningly beautiful birds. I noticed some movement in the mulch below the feeder, and I could not believe it when I saw two white crowned sparrows digging and scratching at the ground. sparrows.jpgI’ve never expected to see them in my yard. I usually see them near the alpine zone when hiking in the summer. Their number grew to four birds foraging in the mulch. Add a few housefinches, some robins, a pair of mourning doves, and, of course, a squirrel – and we had quite a wildlife show.