In the summer, the tiny Male American Goldfinch is the Beau Brummell of the bushes – an eye-wincing dab of sunshine with a black cap that’s flared at other males. His summer mate often is described as “dull,” even though she’s cute and well-tailored in pin-striped wings.
Now, in the leafless winter, however, little Beau gets his come-uppance (some would say come-downance.) It’s impossible to tell his dullness apart from hers at a distance, although they both remain attractively well-tailored. But, that’s good when you’re hawk food flitting through a gray world.
By the way, research shows that evolution favors brighter yellows for summer male Goldfinches: the brighter their yellow, the healthier they are. Females seem to sense that distinction and virtually always choose the brightest bird around for their mates. (Brooklin, Maine)