This has been a dark and dank Spring in which many of our trees and bushes have not yet fully leafed-out. Yet, our male American Goldfinches already are wearing their outlandish summer suits. Their genes apparently gave them no choice; it’s time to for them to attract a mate and help the species survive.


Evolution has dictated that the brighter the male’s yellow plumage, the healthier he is. Female Goldfinches instinctively know that: male color brightness is a major criterion for them when they choose a mate. These females remain conservatively-tailored all year, which helps camouflage them when they are nesting as well as when the branches are bare:


On the other hand, the males’ bright yellow vests in bushes without leaves can attract hawks as well as mates. There are downsides to being handsome. (Brooklin, Maine)