The Goldfinches have finally begun to nest. They're a seed eater, and wait until their food supply is peaking to start nesting. July is the time, and the females are sitting tight on the nest. In the last week, I have only seen one female.
The male is now responsible for harvesting seeds and taking them back to feed the female. She'll stay firm on the nest to protect their four to six eggs from rain and excess heat, or a marauding chipmunk.
Right now, their preferred seeds seem to be on low thistle plants. It is really easy to watch them. I find a remote country road with thistles close to the roadway and safely park on the side near the thistles. Sit still for a while and soon their piping song announces their presence. This male Goldfinch has landed on a thistle stalk with a mature seed head.
The male forages through to find the best heads, and begins a two-step process. First, he'll open the head to find a good seed.
Then he'll strip away the outer chaff to reach the heart of the seed. Their beak is very dexterous in peeling away the chaff.
The males waste no time with a seed head that is not perfect, and will quickly move to sample another plant.
You've got to be quick to keep up with their movements. When their crop is full, they're off to feed their female. Right now, they can quickly find enough seeds and the feeding is not continuous. Once the eggs are hatched, the males are feeding their partner plus up to a half dozen small chicks. Feeding will pickup with the females initially staying on the nest, and then as the demand of the growing chicks increases, I will see females joining in the harvesting of the seed.
Overall, it will be about four weeks from the start of incubation until the nesting is complete and large flocks of Goldfinches will then appear. It's truly a whirlwind from start to finish. By autumn all the adults will have molted, and there will be no brilliant yellow finches to be found until next spring.