Something seemed different about the yard yesterday. And it wasn't just the awful wind that was blowing everything around. There were plenty of birds out braving the wind. There were even a few butterflies, including this very early Black Swallowtail that I had first seen a couple of days ago.
But amid all the familiar activity, something seemed to be missing. At first I couldn't put my finger on it. I scanned the bird feeders with my binoculars. They were covered in finches as usual. Lots and lots of Pine Siskins and...wait a minute! There were no goldfinches!
I scanned the feeders and the ground again and looked at the tree limbs where, for the last three months, American Goldfinches have waited their turn at the feeders. Nothing.
I listened for the familiar sound of their chattering or their flight song as they moved from place to place. Again, nothing.
I had noticed over the weekend that their numbers seemed down a bit, but could they all have absconded over night? All day long I looked for them and again today I've kept my eyes and ears open, but they are just not there. The goldfinches have gone. There may still be a few stray individuals around but the great mass of the flock has moved on.
This is very early for the goldfinches to have left. Normally, they stay in my yard until late March or even April. Last year, for example, I saw the last one in the yard on March 27. But it is well documented that global warming is changing the habits of many animals. Apparently, goldfinches and perhaps Black Swallowtail butterflies may be among them.