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Aug 20, 2020

The Goldfinch is the Washington State bird. I learned this from my enthusiastic mother-in-law, who was trying to encourage me to get a specific birdfeeder. She has one that attracts mainly Goldfinches, and has spent many hours sitting and watching these yellow, social animals fly in and out of the area, fighting for a space on the birdfeeder. I didn't buy the bird feeder, but Margo turned up one day with it in hand, as well as a bag of seeds, and a laminated poster about Washington State birds. She was obviously adamant that(1) we have all the equipment. The birdfeeder is just outside of the kitchen window next to some trees. We have another one a few feet away for the general population, and a hummingbird feeder next to the sunnier side of our deck. So we are all set up to birdwatch! Well, you know what happens when you're ready to photograph animals, - nothing. Days went by and I didn't see a bird at all anywhere near the feeder. It wasn't until Margo came by several days later, that birds started to turn up. It was odd; as soon as she walked into the kitchen, three Goldfinches appeared and clung to(2) the feeder. We watched in amazement at their sudden appearance and their brightly colored feathers. Then as soon as she left, they did! She must be the Goldfinch woman.... Since that day, we have had a daily flock of them, mainly juveniles; they are so small! It's very satisfying to watch them. Not only are they beautiful, but they are so energetic and feisty! There is always a pecking order(3) in each crowd; someone always has to be the boss!

This little bird only grows to about 5 inches long, with a wingspan of 8. It's unusual in that it molts twice a year, gaining new, bright yellow feathers just before the mating season, and again before Autumn. It only eats seeds, and loves sunflowers and thistles in particular. Thankfully, humans don't bother the birds. In fact, they are quite happy with us. Many eat and live in backyards, and also in cleared forests that have become fields, as they like open spaces. So what we have with the Goldfinch is a lovely, beneficial relationship. 

1. 'To be adamant that + subjunctive' means to insist on something.

a. They are adamant that their daughter break up with her boyfriend.

b. The teacher is adamant that all her students read one book a week.

2. 'Clung' is the past of 'to cling' which means to hang on for dear life!

a. I'm right here; you don't have to cling on to me!

b. The cat clung on to the top of the curtain while the dogs barked at it underneath.

3. 'A pecking order' means a ranking, someone at the top who is most 'important' and then a descending order of others.

a. The lion is the top of the pecking order in a pride.

b. He would like to determine who is at the top of the office pecking order, but he doesn't have the authority.