Goldfinches brighten November

Waiting and watching to spy American goldfinches brings to mind lines from the poet John Keats. He wrote, “I stood tip-toe upon a little hill, the air was cooling, and so very still ... And then there crept a little noiseless noise among the leaves, born of the very sigh that silence heaves.”

Sometimes one by one or in a swirling, fluttering rain, goldfinches silently drop from amidst the low-hanging oak branches, to chirp and chatter as they enjoy a sociable feeding amid the wild stand of thistle seeds below.

The American goldfinch is a dazzling bright golden-bodied bird of incomparable grace. They are about as long as the width of a man’s hand and clad in a cloak of sleek, burnished gold. Notable are the snow-white bars that stand bright against their contrasting black wing, tail feathers and forehead. Unafraid and friendly, their soft voices, long, sweet and clear, appear to be offering avian thanks for another welcome and bountiful string of golden November days. To behold them is to understand why a flock of these dazzling goldfinches is called a “charm.”

November is the mingling of bird song, the flashing swirl of autumn’s rainbow of leafy color and the hurrying winds of winter sweeping fallen leaves across the lawn to their winter bedding grounds. The days are moving ever so swiftly now with late dawn and early dusk transforming the golden days of a summer to long frosty starlit nights, with a bevy of new stars appearing with every sunset.