renatagrieco: May 25, 2016 – Lawrence’s Goldfinch (Spinus…

Saturday, April 14th, 2018


May 25, 2016 – Lawrence’s Goldfinch (Spinus lawrencei)

These finches are found only in a small range from California through northwestern Mexico. Though migratory, they tend to move east and west instead of north and south. They eat mostly seeds, which they pick from plants while perching, along with some insects. Their cup-shaped nests are constructed from leaves, grass stems, and sometimes lichen. Females do all of the incubation, while males bring them food and both parents feed the chicks. Males’ songs sometimes mimic parts of the songs of other species.


Seeing these felt really special. We saw a bunch of them when we scouted Jameson Lake for the Christmas Count last fall, before the Thomas Fire. Then, when we went in on the rescheduled count day (January 5), there weren’t any. They’re considered “fire followers”, and in a couple of years we’ll hopefully have a lot of them because of the new growth that will appear, but so far this year I hadn’t had any unambiguous sightings of them.

I’d had a few ambiguous hearings, though. On my hike last week up the Franklin Trail I thought I heard them a couple of times, but never saw one. I didn’t feel comfortable listing them based only one what I’d heard; I’ll do that for a bird with which I’m very familiar, but for this bird, and especially for my county year list, I wasn’t willing to list it.

In the past week I thought I heard them a couple more times; once at the Carpinteria Salt Marsh and then again at the Carpinteria Bluffs, but each time I wasn’t able to see the bird.

Guy (our Sedgwick tour leader) to the rescue yet again! He pointed out their calls several times as we did the tour, and toward the end we got great views of a pair of them feeding on a grassy hillside. Such a beautiful bird.

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