Goldfinch In The Basil


Henry David Thoreau observed that people will travel all over the world to see the sights, but don’t even know what’s in their own backyard.

I don’t have that problem.  In my post the other day, I shared the laughter of how a momma robin outsmarted me while trying to feed her babies and keep me from watching.  There were several other opportunities to take pictures that day, including the goldfinch eating seeds from the basil.

Here’s what I saw through the glass of our back door.
That’s a reflection of my shirt in the bottom right corner.

I was sitting at the kitchen table overlooking the deck when he flew in for a landing, looked around, then started chowing down.

I watched for a few minutes before realizing that he was staying and not flying away.  And yes, it’s a male.  The females are dimmer in color, more yellow green instead of such a bright yellow.

I grabbed my camera and quietly moved to the backdoor and started shooting through the glass.  My camera already set for continuous shoot and I just held down the shutter and clicked.

I’ve edited down close to 200 pictures.  Because I took them through glass, the colors and sharpness were a little off.  I uses some Topaz filters to perk up the colors and details.

He either didn’t know I was there or he didn’t care.  You can see in the sequence how he ate out the seeds first on one side, then moves around to the back.

I was surprised to see him.  We don’t usually have goldfinches hanging around during the summer.  We only see them during the migration, particularly in the fall.  I’m not not sure why we don’t see them as much in the spring – it could be they take a different route or don’t stop as long.

However, our garden this year has been a favorite stop for a number of the birds.  They fly to the top of the tomato cages, look around, then dive into the garden.  I’m not having much trouble with slugs anymore or any other insects (as yet).  I think the birds have been keeping the bugs at bay as they hunt for food in between the watermelon, collard greens, and Swiss chard.

Rainbow chard in front, parsley to the left and some eucalyptus in front. See the tomato cages to the right?
That’s the staging area for the birds.

My opportunity to take pictures didn’t last very long, but I took full advantage and enjoyed watching that little bird raiding the herbal pantry for its supper.

Garden Nature

dogear6 View All →

I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at

23 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I just had the same experience, which led me to google finches eating basil, which led me to your page! Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures! I didn’t attempt any. Love the little birds.👍

    • Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad to hear you found this page through Google – it’s always interesting the things they come up with.

      The basil attracted both the birds and a lot of bees. After this, I always let at least one of the plants go to seed just to see what would show up.

  2. I never had goldfinch until I set out thistle seeds. Today, I watched one little guy go for the basil seeds and then for the seeds of the black eyed Susans. Because they nest late in summer (when seeds are abundant) they are usually seen later in the summer. Not like the robin, harbinger of Spring. Who knows where the golfing hang out earlier in the season? For the state bird of New Jersey, they surely make themselves scarce.

    • We know when we start seeing the goldfinches, fall is underway. They generally don’t hang around in Virginia. And it’s funny, we don’t see them passing through in the spring, but we do in the late summer / early fall. The cedar waxwings will be here soon too, just passing through.

  3. I have a picture of a goldfinch on a neighbor’s tomato cage, eyeing the garden. I had a female on a feeder the other day. Haven’t seen her since. Great photos, your garden looks really good.

%d bloggers like this: