American Goldfinch · Oak Hill Trail

American Goldfinch
(Spinus tristis)

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by Marybeth Cieplinski

Above open fields they dip and swoop
on a sweltering summer day with sun-blistered pavement
or a crisp fall afternoon with leaves drifting down.
Whee-hee! Whee-hee!
Yellow and black streaks of color
as fast as June bugs,
as bright as the sunflower seeds they love,
singing out their roller-coaster joy,
searching for whatever food they can find.
Canada Thistle
Tickseed
Echinacea
Wild asters
Two, maybe three, times per summer the flailing young appear,
yellow gape wide, screaming
feedmefeedmefeedme
while harried parents rush to crack open seeds,
stuff the nutty kernels into ravenous maws.
Each season provides sustenance to the growing family.
In the Cuyahoga Valley, they flit year-round
in fields and forest edges,
alongside the river and marshes,
bright male plumage faded to mustard and gray in winter,
hardly distinguishable from their female mates until spring.
“Wild canaries” we called them as children.
"Yellow bird”
“Thistle bird”
The first sighting of sunflower yellow on wing tips
shows that spring is approaching.
The fields warm, sprout, expand, bloom,
and the song of the goldfinch
Whee-hee! Whee-hee!
gladdens the ear again.

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