To my dear grandchildren,
The Handsome Goldfinch
"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father [being aware of it] . . . Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."
The goldfinch, often called the wild canary because of it lovely song, is one of America's most beautiful songbirds. It is about five inches long and is found over most of Southern Canada and the United States.
The male is an exceptionally pretty and compact, neat little bird. In the spring and summer he is dressed in bright yellow feathers with a contrasting jet-black cap, wings, and tail feathers with pretty cross stripes of white. His legs and short, sharp beak are orange-brown. But in the fall and winter his bright yellow body changes to look more like the olive-brown female.
These birds fly in a rapid up-and-down, wavelike motion. It is delightful to watch this display and hear their distinctive lovely songs. They seem so happy in the way of life the Creator has arranged for them.
Their nests are made of thistle-down and fibers from various plants and are woven so tightly that the nests will hold water. The inside of the soft nests will have three to six pale blue eggs. These are laid from July through September and hatch out as cute baby chicks after about two weeks. While the mothers incubate the eggs, their mates faithfully bring them quantities of seeds to satisfy their hunger.
The Creator has made the goldfinch a seed-eater rather than an insect-eater. And in His wisdom He has arranged for their young to hatch out in the late summer, just as seeds are ripening with the most nourishment and are easy to find. Thistle seeds are their favourite, and climbing about the prickly thistle plant does not seem to bother them a bit. There is also a variety of other food for them as well, including ripe berries and the seeds of grass, weeds, wheat and oats.
The baby goldfinches are not able to digest whole seeds, no matter how ripe they are. Until they are older and able to gather and digest their own food, the parents feed them by eating and digesting the seeds in their crops, which is a pouch in their throats where digestion begins. Then they place their beaks in the little ones' mouths and bring up the digested food.
How did the goldfinch - and all other finches - know to delay their nesting until late in the summer? And how did they learn such an unusual way to feed their little ones? We know the answer. The Creator gave them the instincts to do these things when He first created them, and each new generation does not need to be taught again, because these instincts come naturally to them, just as the Lord God planned it.