American goldfinch with a misaligned wing

Gimpy Goldfinch

An injured American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) that has been frequenting this feeder is the subject of today’s One Picture a Day. Because of the dark wing, I think this is a male, but I am not absolutely sure. I first noticed him about a month ago, in December. He has an apparent injury to his right wing. It droops away from his body slightly. However, it does not appear to interfere significantly with his ability to fly, at least short distances. I have observed him fly into and away from the feeder. He maneuvers well. He seems to keep pace with his fellow goldfinches. I suspect, though, that this feeder is an important source of food. If he had to forage for wild food over longer distances, he might have trouble keeping up with the flock and away from predators. The energy budget for wild animals is tight, especially in winter. Any injury or other deficit can mean an extra energy loss or inability to find sufficient calories that put them in danger of failure. The next 48 hours are going to be the coldest of the winter so far, into the single digits most of the time. We’ll see how he fairs.

Photographically there’s nothing new about this image. In this case, the subject was something I specifically wanted to capture, rather than just looking for a reason to use a camera. I used the same set-up I used recently for a downy woodpecker; likewise, it was taken through window glass. The window glass did not throw blemishes into the image as badly this time, though I did nothing different. I used a Nikon D90, with a Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom and an SB-600 Speedlight. For post-processing, I cropped the image some. I mainly tweaked the contrast and saturation to take out the flatness that the window glass tends to introduce.

UPDATE: Gimpy goldfinch is still going strong one month later.