Feathered friends like to visit

Published 11:59 pm Friday, January 23, 2009

I can never remember from one year to the next when goldfinches appear at our bird feeders in the backyard. A few weeks ago, I glanced out the window of our sun porch and saw a bird that I thought might be a goldfinch. As I looked at the birds on the bare branches of a popcorn tree, others perched in an azalea bush and numerous ones flitting around the feeders, there was not another bird like the one I saw.

As soon as I told my husband I thought I’d seen a goldfinch, he immediately pulled out the little mesh pouches and a sack of thistle seed left over from the goldfinches’ last visit. Soon three bulging pouches dangled from a line stretched between a tree and a post.

The next day when we looked out the window, we knew for certain that the bird I had seen was a goldfinch. Maybe it was a scout. All I know is since that time there have been so many goldfinches around those feeders that they fight for a spot on which to hang. Sometimes I see at least eight perched, some upside down, on a single pouch with three or four flying around, competing for space. Some have a lot of bright yellow feathers, while others do not, but they all have those same black and white tail feathers.

One morning we awoke to find the line and all the feeders on the ground. That didn’t discourage the birds. There were so many in the midst of the feeders on the ground that we couldn’t count them. We don’t know what critter broke the line — there are plenty of squirrels around — and we’ve also seen possums. Or maybe it was one of those uninvited fat cats that jump our fences and stalk birds at our feeders. The line is intact again and the goldfinches still perch all over the feeders. At times, my husband fills the pouches twice a day.

When they started visiting us some years ago, it brought to mind the first time I had ever seen goldfinches. It was during a club tour of DeFuniak Springs, Fla., with friends. One place we visited was a historic three-storied house that sits on a rise next to the highway. At that time, it was a bed and breakfast.

When the hostess invited us into the kitchen, I glanced out the window into the back yard. Fluttering and swarming around an ordinary bird feeder were dozens of goldfinches. Many were clothed in their gorgeous yellow feathers. What a sight.

I have no idea how long these fascinating and apparently quite hungry feathered friends will grace us with their presence. While they do, we’ll keep filling those little pouches with those expensive thistle seeds. It’s not a bad price to pay for the amusement they provide us.