Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Chameleon

American goldfinch, Carduelis tristis
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"It is the color closest to light. In its utmost purity it always implies the nature of brightness and has a cheerful, serene, gently stimulating character. Hence, experience teaches us that yellow makes a thoroughly warm and comforting impression. With yellow the eye rejoices, the heart expands, the spirit is cheered and we immediately feel warmed. Many people feel an inclination to laugh when looking through a yellow glass." ~ Johann von Goethe, Theory of Colors, 1840
I learned something this year... actually, I've learned quite a few things this year... such as, how to set a toilet, how to scrape up floor tile, how to spackle, how to prepare a concrete floor for painting, how to re-upholster chairs.. you get my drift and I am drifting.

Anyway, we've (Mom, the cats and I) been birdwatching for several years now and each spring the yellow finch (goldfinch) show up and devour several pounds of thistle seed, providing the cats with hours of intense entertainment. These birds have been greyish brown with bits of yellow shading on their heads or about the wing. At the old place in Virginia Beach, they would feed for several weeks and then disappear for the summer and make another appearance in late fall. I always wondered where they went.

Well, it seems that the Virginia Beach finch takes his summer vacation, not at the beach, but here in Chesapeake. This invites the question.. where do the Chesapeake finch spend their summers... at the beach... literally? The local Wild Birds Unlimited shared this tidbit. The more fascinating observation, however, occurred in late May... suddenly it seemed, these fairly drab and tiny birds showed up at the thistle stash sporting blindingly bright yellow feathers. This intense yellow deepened the contrast with their black wing markings. Were these different birds, perhaps from North Carolina or parts more distant? Probably not.

These yellow finch (goldfinch) are chameleons. During mating season (summer), the male's feathers change color, becoming this bright dazzling hue... break out the sunglasses! In nature, it sometimes takes a lot to snare a mate! This made me wonder.... how often or how much does the male of the human species change in order to find his mate? I decided it was a moot point.... you see, when the mating season is over, these bright little males change right back into the mousy gray-brown feather coat they had in early spring. In my experience... humans tend to do the same.

Submission for Thursday Challenge topic "yellow".

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