Far too often we overlook the most common of our backyard birds, always seeking a new lifer, a rare bird or an unusual visitor. On a dreary day that was more winter than spring last week, however, one wonderful bird perched so pretty to remind me that there's nothing common about a bird.
It was a lesser goldfinch - lesser in size than its goldfinch cousins, perhaps, and lesser in the extent of its range, lesser even in its notoriety with regards to state birds and symbolism, but not at all lesser in itself. Though the day was drab and gray, this guest was brilliant yellow and black in his breeding plumage. Despite cold temperatures and a biting breeze, he was beautifully fluffed to show off his vitality and the chill didn't bother him a bit. His delicate talons had a strong grip on a twig barely swelling with spring sap, and he was alert and vibrant.
In just a minute or two, this one "lesser" bird reminded me that all birds are beautiful, no matter how often we see them or how frequently we enjoy their company. As birders, we need to take the time to pause and admire our most familiar feathered friends - not only their physical beauty, but their liveliness and adaptability to be so comfortable around us. For if we become too comfortable around them, we may forget to clean the feeders or refill the bird baths, and once we neglect our most familiar birds, it becomes too easy to neglect all birds. Do that, and soon we might be wondering where our backyard birds have gone, why the mornings are quiet, and what happened to the rich birdlife we used to enjoy.
I refilled my feeders today; have you?