Working on our Littleton farm this morning, I was serenaded by the calls and songs of many avian residents and visitors. Dominating this background noise was the incessant song of a male lesser goldfinch, delivered from prominent perches throughout the property.
Arriving along the Colorado Front Range in late April or May, lesser goldfinches initially maintain their gregarious habits, roaming about to feed in weedy fields, across foothill shrublands or on the sunny slopes of lower canyons. By late June, males begin to establish their territories, announcing that intent with long soliloquies of high pitched notes and whistles designed to attract a mate and keep other suitors at bay.
Like other species of goldfinches, lessers nest in mid-late summer, when the seeds of thistle and sunflowers are most abundant. Once the young are fledged, these small, attractive songbirds congregate in large flocks once again, heading for the Desert Southwest, South Texas or Mexico before chilly autumn winds rake the Front Range.